OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Employees at the diner where a St. Cloud man works are speaking out about their colleague falling down a 12-foot hole on Wednesday morning.
The City of St. Cloud said damage to a storm drain pipe caused the ground above it to collapse sometime after midnight.
Jackie Espinosa is the owner of The Kissimmee Diner. She said that the victim, Rick Cherry, is her breakfast cook. Espinosa said that Cherry has worked for the dinner for years and rides his bike to work in the early morning hours.
Espinosa said that Cherry told her, "the earth swallowed me."
“All full of blood and it was just horrific. It was a terrible, terrible situation. Stitches. It’s pretty bad. He needs surgery,” said Espinosa.
Espinosa said that after Cherry fell into the hole, he yelled for help. She said that a city worker picking up trash nearby heard his screams for help.
"It was very disturbing. It's right before the holidays and for something like this to happen," said Espinosa.
Espinosa said that Cherry is best known to customers for his homemade cabbage soup.
“What a way to start your morning. I mean you are riding to work, trying to get here on time. He’s very punctual. He never gets here late. Kind of a freak accident," said Espinosa.
Espinosa said that Cherry will have facial reconstruction surgery in the upcoming days and she hopes to have him back at the diner soon.
"He's optimistic, hoping to just bounce back and eventually just get back to work, but he understands it's a long journey ahead," said Espinosa.
The City of St. Cloud said that the repair could take several weeks. Currently, a section of the roadway is closed.
The hole, caused by the collapse, forced the closure of Old Canoe Creek Road.