Wally, Why did you build my condo so shoddily it was dangerous?The Developer/Owner/Realtor/Broker, Wally Sargent, from
whom I purchased the property, which he also financed, has the
prestigious Santa Fe Properties, which makes me wonder,
"Why was my home constructed in so shoddy a manner that it is
When I called Wally Sargent after I learned of the problem he
said he would take care of it, to send him the bills. But when I
did he said his lawyer had said not to "become involved." When
I wrote to his lawyer, his lawyer sent me a threatening letter as
if I was at fault.
Felix is wearing a yellow cap, Miguel is on this side of the
wisteria roots which they carefully protected as they dug out the
privy pit. (On the right is the outside of my bedroom wall.)
After a structural engineer came and advised addressing the
water/drainage situation, I reported back to the other owners
who ignored the structural engineer's report and my pleas for
help; so, I stepped up my complaints on the "squeaky wheel"
This resulted, after a really long time, in them contacting our
The insurance company, Ohio Casualty, sent Doug McLeod,
a structural engineer to thoroughly check inside and outside
my condo and take soil samples from the bottom of the hole.
Based on the soil tests, he concluded that there was a privy
pit, and warned that there was often more than one.
The Outdoor Toilet Pit Under My Bedroom
I thought an old, outdoor toilet pit under
someone's home was common in older
areas of cities. But over the years very few
people have emailed me about a similar
Nevertheless hydrogen sulfide poisoning
can be common. Here are a few things that
can cause hydrogen sulfide poisoning: a
missing cleanout cap, a deteriorated toilet
seal, water evaporating out of an unused
sink trap, living near oil or gas drilling or
refining, or near sewage treatment plants.
Sewers ExplodeINCIDENTALLY, when I went to Wells Fargo, across the
street from Federal Place, to withdraw money to pay Miguel
and Felix for digging, the drive up window was closed. This
is three blocks from the Plaza. Conversationally I asked
why it was closed. The teller said that the sewer had
exploded and there was a big hole in the floor. I had no idea
that sewers exploded, so the information made me take the
privy pit more seriously.
Sadly, the City officials were not helpful. The building
inspector and the plumbing inspector didn't even tell me
that hydrogen sulfide from the main city sewer lines was
being released from the sewer pipe that had broken when
the outhouse pit subsided under it, and was now exposed.
2/13/06 I'm Devastated -- But, curiously hopeful --
Because I paid to have as much corrected with the privy pit as I had
money, and because I didn't want to rent my unit to someone who could be
hurt by toxins from another privy pit, if there is one, I am in a desperate
situation with my property being foreclosed. And not only that I didn't have
the money to go to a doctor when I got a darning needle in my toe, and I
got tetanus and have been drastically sick and in bed for five months.
Then, about a month ago, the City turned off the water at my rental while
the gas was on, and that burned the boiler out, so now (2/13/05) I don't
have a source of income until the boiler is replaced at a cost of $3,400,
and I don't qualify for any sort of federal safety net program because I
guess none exist for people like me.
I worked 16 hour days as a Realtor to have my condo, and then when my
son wanted to come from England I got a larger home so he could live
here, but then he didn't want to stay in Santa Fe and went back to London,
so I cried and cried and I decided to get a smaller hoe that wouldn't remind
me of my dream of being reunited with my son. That's how I got three
Now I'm without any income because, basically, of the privy pit and I'm as
scared as I was when the tetanus was making my back muscles contract
and pull me backwards.
I don't know why there's no law to protect people like me.
Is it right that I'm losing everything because of this?
If I'd sold my properties without fighting, I'd only have gotten a small portion
of what they are worth because of the desperate situation I've been forced
into. And once I don't have my properties I don't have my income source.
So, I fought, except I got tetanus... But now, if the default judgment "works"
thing could still turn around.
I'm praying. I hope you pray for me. And I hope Sargent gives me the
money for the default judgment to pay the foreclosure plaintiffs -- in time.
SiteBuilder from Yahoo is SOOOO easy to use!!!!
I feel that the opposing attorneys and possibly some of the judges may come
to this page and then look at other parts of my site and decide that I'm not
really disabled if I can do this. They may think this is hard to do, maybe they
think that to do this I had to know html or other demanding things. But, what
SiteBuilder does is make it possible to just write what you want, and choose
colors and click to add pictures or make links. Plus, over time the pages can
be edited and redited until they look really good. Or, I think they look really
Something that I've failed to mention is that after I moved into my condo
in 2001, in the early spring when it was still cold I kept the windows closed; I
couldn't feel a cord around my leg and I fell - I think the hydrogen sulfide had
already begun to cause numbness.
I hit my head hard on the brick floor - I'm 6 feet tall, so my head went that far
When I found x-rays in my medical file, I had the strangest feeling, as if
someone had faked records to mislead me: I had no memory of getting
x-rays. I have no memory of it today, either. That is the traumatic brain injury
that I now have.
What I had thought caused the numbness before I knew about the hydrogen
sulfide, was stress from Dorrie Deal not paying the Refuse charges from the
City, and them all coming out of my refinance closing, when I needed the
money to pay my Chapter 11 creditors.
Because I couldn't live in my condo I moved into one of my two rentals,
which undid my income. Now that home is foreclosed: the home where I am
sick in bed with what I hope is getting to be the end of tetanus. Sale on the
Courthouse steps was set for 3/22/05 and I didn't get to appear and the court
wouldn't accommodate my disability.
7/12/06 - The recent New Mexican articles don't make the fact of the privy
pit clear. I can't help but wonder if that is because the New Mexican
published a story in 2003 written by Christopher Alba which said that "the
real culprit" was the broken sewer pipe.
Alba was paid over $1600 by the Condo Association, and the only thing I
know of that he did, was write the article which said false things, ridiculed me
and damaged my reputation.
The privy pit is a matter of fact. The sewer pipe broke because it was laid
over the privy pit.
I filed a defamation case against the New Mexican and Alba, but Judge Hall
would not let me produce evidence. Judge Hall seemed to strongly favor the
newspaper or be seriously prejudiced against me. He refused to
accommodate my disability and he dismissed the case without looking at the
The Newspaper goes out to thousands of people and they all believe, most
likely, that I'm pretending about the pit. The stories make me sound awful. I
did a search for my name on Yahoo and found a story that ran on the KIVA
site in El Paso based on this latest New Mexican story, and it made me
If not for the privy pit I would not have gone into arrears on my mortgages. If
not for my feet being so numb from the hydrogen sulfide I would have felt the
broken bit of needle in my toe that gave me tetanus.
I wish a thousand people would write to Wally Sargent and tell him what a
despicable thing it was to build a condo over part of an old privy pit and then
sell it to someone to live in. Wally Sargent himself sold it to me.
At first, in 2003, Sargent said he would take care of the costs, but then he
hired a lawyer instead.
When the foreclosures started I filed a Third Party Complaint in each and
had Wally Sargent served. He never answered. So I got a Certificate as to
the State of the Record, showing that he was in default, and filed for a
Judge Garcia refused to act on it. Contrast that with how my condo was
foreclosed with a Default Judgment after I answered, with no hearing, and I
wasn't even notified of the judgment or the sale.
Would your court and newspaper treat you like Wally Sargent, or like me?
Think about that.
The bottle part of it was fun. The workers were really nice
about being careful so as not to break them. See the little
one on the rock?
E.W. "Wally" Sargent ~ the
worst real estate agent and
Realtor. Why? Because he
was dishonest with me and
sold me a condo he had built
over a full outdoor toilet pit. He
took his commissions and
profits and a large chunk out of
In 2003, when I had to
excavate the pit, Wally Sargent
refused to make good in any
I was in foreclosure and
bankruptcy because of this,
and I have nerve damage from
Health Time Line Kept in
Third Party Complaint -
Condo Pictures when it was
Corrected Revised Brief
A strip of old carpet sticks to the
rough and bulgy footing over the
pit. Past the pit, Miguel's foot is
on smooth, sharp cornered
footing poured into real earth.
The difference between the hard,
natural earth and the blackish
organic matter in the pit was
obvious. But Wally Sargent,
broker of Santa Fe Properties,
had a home built over that
excrement, sold it to me, and has
taken no responsibility.
My desk was over the outdoor
toilet pit. The brick floor was laid
without a slab. My hard drive
tower sat on the bricks, and I
went through five hard drives in
My kitty liked to sit in one of my
filing bags of papers. It wasn't
until she was so sick she was
dragging herself, that I finally
knew I had to move to a hotel.
This is where I sat when I
started my site, my Fingernails
and B12 Malabsorption pages.
A helical pier put in by Crocker Ltd.
held up the corner of the condo
during digging. It goes down 35 feet
to solid ground.
When digging exposed it Felix and
Miguel were worried but Ed Crocker
said it was fine. Later he said, No, its
gauge was too small to be exposed
and it may have been "compromised".
Mario measured the depth of the
excavation when it had reached the
bottom of the outdoor toilet
"material. It was 10 feet deep.
This shows the stepped
nature of the excavation.
Pictures taken just
before a Sotheby's real
estate agent bought my
condo at the
foreclosure sale I didn't
When Crocker was selling me the helical pier he didn't say there were different
sizes; he didn't give me a choice. I was extremely distressed that the helical pier
was not the safety precaution he had led me to believe.
Mr. Crocker has several articles on the Internet about helical anchors. One talks
about "false confidence." He means it to be a reason to put in one of his helical
piers, so you can have "true" confidence. But, from my experience, the pier
appears to have been false confidence.
LossesIn the end I didn't have money to complete the job because the other
owners refused to pay their share and because I had to stay in a hotel due to
the hole being under my bedroom: there's no slab, just bricks on sand which
at that point were balanced over the hole. When I got money I finished, not
knowing my condo had been foreclosed. So that was even more money lost.
No, there was no help, not
legal or otherwise. The
ones with the money win,
not the ones who are hurt
Cause to suspect an indoor air toxinIf you wonder any of the following, as I did while I lived in hydrogen
sulfide, you may have cause to suspect a toxin in your indoor air:
Why am I wheezing?
Why does my chest hurt?
Why am I spilling things so often?
Why doesn't coffee smell good any more?
Why can't I walk straight?
Why do I bump into things so often?
Why do I say the wrong word so much?
Why do I get confused so easily?
Why is my throat irritated? it's not hay fever season.
Why are there valleys in my fingernails?
The one answer to all of those questions could be hydrogen sulfide.
For me, I had no idea I was living over excrement. I had, after all,
purchased my home from a reputable Realtor who was the developer
and whom I believed to be honest.
My initial fear, caused by large holes that kept forming outside, and
then much smaller ones inside between my floor bricks (laid on sand
without a slab) was that I was living over some kind of deep
underground cavity that was just waiting to become a full fledged sink
hole that would swallow my home, everything in it, and possibly me.
This fear was fed by loud bangs which I interpreted as things shifting in
the underground cavity/would-be sink hole.
Because I knew my home was near the Santa Fe River, I thought the
holes could be related to an underground river or channel that had
once been a river.
Because my home is a condo, I ran the problem of the holes past the
owners of the other condos, emphasizing how the water from the condo
adjacent to mine torrented into my tiny patio. "Could flooding cause
subsidence?" I asked.
"Get a structural engineer. We'll share the cost," they replied. (They've
yet to pay one single penny.)
WARNING!That last dose of hydrogen sulfide caused my mouth to swell so severely
that my gums bled; my forehead swelled; the soft tissue in my
chest swelled causing considerable pain when the doctor pushed on my
sternum; and my feet and ankles mimicked those of an elephant ~ what had
been loose, slip-on sandals, became tight, foot constricting shoes around
their tops where my swollen feet bulged.
In actual fact when I say "That last dose of hydrogen sulfide," I am forgetting
that there may be a second outhouse pit in line with the first, the second
being more or less under my bedroom doorway, where bricks have begun
to sink. (Yes, if you are thinking it sounds like I don't have a slab, you are
right. My brick floor is laid right on top of the sand. In terms of the hydrogen
sulfide, I think no slab may be a good thing, since if there were a slab it
would be harder to detect where the hydrogen sulfide was coming from, if
and when the slab cracked, which it inevitably would do.)
If you are exhibiting any of these symptoms: you wheeze in the early a.m.;
your chest hurts (because your mucous membranes are swollen, but you
don't know that and fear it's your heart and lungs); your memory becomes
much worse; you have a hard time finishing sentences; your balance
becomes much worse; you bump into doorways; you weave when you want
to walk a straight line, and you live in an old part of your town, you may want
to have a hydrogen sulfide test done in your home. Your home will need to
be closed up for a few days, during which time it's best if you are not there.
Because, here's the thing, I doubt anyone else thinks their dwelling is built
over an outhouse pit any more than I did.
But, it could be, and that is not good for the dweller's health.
Health Boundaries Bite
The Outdoor Toilet Pit under my Condo
Ignorant of hydrogen sulfide till after a loud BANGMr. McLeod didn't mention hydrogen sulfide, though, so all I
knew was that the privy pit was causing the holes and I didn't
have to worry about a huge sink hole appearing and swallowing
me and my home. I was so happy and relieved ~~ which I
wouldn't have been if I hadn't been ignorant of hydrogen sulfide
and what a privy pit so near my house meant. I didn't yet know
that part of it was under my bedroom!
I didn't learn what it meant until after there was such a loud
BANG! one day that I thought someone had shot out my living
I ran to see if I could catch a glimpse of the gun wielding culprit,
but there wasn't a broken window, nor was there a car accident
outside, and Los Alamos up on the hill appeared intact. At floor
level, however, there was a cloud of dust which was not
I began calling around to find out what was going on. Mostly, it
turned out that no one had a job description that mentioned
privy pits, so EPA, New Mexico air quality, county health, city
building inspectors, and many more all said, "Gosh," and not
much more. Though, each of them told me to call one of the
One fellow, however, was of the opinion that the loud bang
had been an explosion of gases from the privy pit, possibly
nitrates. He said I should get the air tested because there was
significant risk of further explosions, possibly serious.
I made an appointment to have the air tested, closed up my
condo as I was asked to do in preparation for the tests, and
went to Colorado to stay with a friend, since I was told it
wouldn't be good to stay in the house with no fresh air.
Three days later I came back, met the air quality guy, Michael
Curtis from CERL, who immediately upon entering said he
smelled hydrogen sulfide. He said that if I couldn't smell it, (and I
couldn't) that it had deadened my sense of smell, which it was
known to do.
Hydrogen Sulfide testsHe did hydrogen sulfide tests in two areas and identified in his
report that hydrogen sulfide was coming up through the floor.
He said that when hydrogen sulfide is there, there are most
likely other toxic gases as well, but that to test for all of them
would get pricey. He said that since it was known that once you
had hydrogen sulfide the other gases were likely there also,
hydrogen sulfide was considered a "marker" for the other gases.
Did I want to try to identify other gases, he asked, saying he
didn't think it was necessary because of the marker quality of
hydrogen sulfide. He added ominously that the pit had to be
dug out right away: I couldn't go on living
with the hydrogen sulfide.
The other owners still would do nothing, so I got started and
came face to face with excavation that produced a really really
big, deep hole -- ten feet deep. (Most ceilings are only eight feet
high.) And, it wasn't exactly where the holes had been, it was
partially, directly under the corner of my bedroom.
Once the location of the pit became apparent, I had to get a pier
to support the house to eliminate danger of the house falling on
the men while they were digging. (The installed pier wasn't up
to the task, but I believed it was when it was installed.)
The Outdoor Toilet Pit Under My Bedroom