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DEPUTY NARROWLY ESCAPES FALLING BUILDING DEBRIS

Alfred Gennuso says he is lucky to be around to celebrate his birthday today.

Monday, he stepped out of a conference room in front of the first-floor office of Erie County Surrogate Joseph S. Mattina in Erie County Hall -- seconds before an estimated ton of bricks, plaster and concrete crashed to the floor.

"I almost didn't make it to 60," said Gennuso, a sheriff's deputy.

Court officials blamed the collapse on a second-floor restroom renovation project in the 120-year-old building. Work crews Monday were using sledgehammers to remove old toilets on the second floor.

Gennuso returned to his court assignment in December after being off work a year because of open-heart surgery.

The county and the state are in the process of upgrading the building, which was the site of the McKinley assassination trial.

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