Elderly Woman Found Alive Under Garbage Pile in Home

An elderly woman was rescued after being found buried beneath a pile of debris, garbage and animal feces in a home, authorities said. An elderly man was found dead.

Helen Bushwick, 85, was discovered Thursday when volunteer firefighters responded to the two-story house after relatives said they couldn't reach her. Debris mixed with human and animal waste was piled high in every room, some all the way to the ceiling.

"A six-foot pile of rubbish collapsed on her and trapped her in there," Erik Kinney, a volunteer firefighter, said of Bushwick.

The man was found Friday when authorities resumed a search. His name was not released.

Bushwick was taken to a hospital where she was admitted with dehydration. Officials weren't sure how long they had been trapped, but neighbors said they last saw them about a week ago.

There was garbage — "cans, boxes, clothing, papers, whatever you can collect in every room, some spots to the ceiling, some three feet to the ceiling," Kinney said. "Feces — raccoon, possum and human" were found in buckets and in the trash.

"The stench was very strong, as you can imagine," he added.

A sign was posted on the home saying it was unfit for human occupancy, John Rottkamp, first deputy commissioner of the buildings department in the town of Hempstead, which has jurisdiction over Woodmere. The gas also had been turned off.

The house will be boarded up, and the woman's relatives will be allowed to go through the contents, authorities said.