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Weeks after fall, manhole cover secured

Posted at 8:04 PM, Aug 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-16 20:12:12-04

24 hours after WMAR-2 News took a woman’s complaint to the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, a dangerous open manhole has been secured. 

Three weeks ago, Diamond Richardson discovered this problem in a very painful way.

"My life was just flashing before my eyes. I was just trying to get out of the hole," Richardson said.

She was crossing Hillen Rd. near Morgan State University's chapel. She stepped on what she thought was a secure manhole cover, but she was wrong. 

"The seal was actually inside of the hole and it was flat and that’s when I stepped on it and fell through," Richardson said. 

It flipped and her right leg was stuck. Someone stopped traffic to help her out and she's been fighting to get the hole fixed ever since. She reached out to the mayor, the Department of Public Works, and finally WMAR-2 News. When we spoke with her yesterday, the hole was completely open. 

"Children can fall in there. It can be a fatality and thankfully it wasn’t a fatality with me," Richardson said.

READ MORE: Woman survives fall into Baltimore manhole

After alerting DPW and sending over pictures. Last night, they came out to put the cover back in its place and a cone on top, but it still wasn't secure. 

"I'm really surprised that it hasn’t been filled. It hasn’t been locked or anything," Richardson said. 

"We know that there’s a frustration that items aren't necessarily dealt with right away, but every day we have crews and sometimes we have contractors out there making repairs," spokesman for the department, Jeffrey Raymond, said. 

He said this wasn't the first, or second time they came to check it out since the accident, and both other times, they never saw an open manhole. 

"If someone is being injured, we are gonna respond to it and in fact, our initial response was the very next day," Raymond said. 

They don't kow if they've been going to the wrong location, or someone is opening it for construction. But now they are addressing it. Just after we spoke to Richardson again today, DPW crews showed up to further secure the cover. They put metal sheeting over the sidewalk and lined it with tar. In the next few months, they will work on a permanent fix.

"All the cracking that you see there will be redone and there will be a new manhole framework," Raymond said. 

After learning about the fix, Richardson says she’s grateful the department addressed the concern to make the area safe for pedestrians. But she still has a warning. 

"Be aware of your surroundings. Make sure that you’re looking both ways, whether it’s crossing the street or looking down at the side walk, because you never know what you could be stepping on," Richardson said. 

If you need to report an open manhole, you can call 311 with a precise location, or report it through the city's 311 app.