January 3, 2011 / 4:49 PM / 7 years ago

Suicidal New York man leaps, but saved by garbage pile

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A would-be suicide jumper in New York was alive on Monday after leaping from a ninth-floor window but landing in a giant heap of garbage uncollected since the city's massive snowstorm a week ago.

Vangelis Kapatos, 26, was hospitalized in critical but stable condition after jumping from his apartment on West 45th Street on Sunday afternoon, authorities said.

Sanitation workers have not collected trash since the December 26 storm dumped more than a foot and a half of snow on the city. Mounds of garbage several feet high line many sidewalks.

"Everybody is complaining that the trash hasn't been picked up," Kapatos' aunt said on Monday. "But me, I'm thankful that it was never picked up."

Police said the trash bags below broke Kapatos' fall and that he left no suicide note before jumping.

The Department of Sanitation, which was only resuming garbage collecting on Monday, estimates 77,000 tons of trash have been left uncollected since the storm.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he expects workers to be caught up with trash collection by Friday.

"It will take a few days to catch up," Bloomberg said. "But they're out there today and hopefully in the next three to four days, we'll be done with it."

Katharina Capatos, who spells her surname differently from her nephew, told Reuters he was severely depressed and had spent a month in the psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital before being released last week.

He also was worried about the possibility of being evicted from his $572-a-month rent-stabilized apartment, she said.

Kapatos' eviction hearing was scheduled to proceed on Tuesday, according to the New York City Housing Court.

Reporting by Aman Ali, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Bohan

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