A 71-year-old man who went outside in the rain to pick up the Sunday newspaper plunged into a cesspool in his front yard, and his son and neighbor were sucked in when they tried to rescue him.
Firefighters said they helped pull out the victims — covered in raw sewage but not badly hurt.
Andrew Palladino said the soggy ground, which had been soaked by two days of rain, gave way outside his Long Island home.
"I walked across the lawn, and all of a sudden I disappeared," he told cable television station News 12 Long Island.
He yelled for his wife, Louise, to help him, and she threw a rope and called their son, Dan, who lives with them.
"Oh, my God," the wife said. "A little more, he's sinking. He's a goner!"
The son said the scene "was like a horror picture."
A neighbor who heard the commotion ran over to help — but the ground gave way again, swallowing him and the son. The neighbor crawled out while passers-by tried to hold onto the others until the Huntington Fire Department showed up.
Firefighters secured the ground, lassoed Palladino and his son and dragged them out.
It's not the first time a cesspool — a pit that collects waste from toilets and sinks — has swallowed someone in the area.
In 2001, a Huntington man practicing archery in the backyard with his two children died when his cesspool caved in and consumed him.
And in 1998, a Huntington Station man was rescued after he fell 65 feet into one.