NEW YORK: The Well-Digger's Ordeal

When he began digging the well under Brooklyn's Sixteenth Avenue Garage, brawny, heavy-shouldered Dominick Atteo took all the short cuts he could. He had done hundreds of such sweaty, commonplace jobs, and all the garage owner wanted was a hole to supply water for car washing during the New York water shortage. At 50, Dominick had six children and a pretty auburn-haired wife, and had to stretch dollars as far as they would go.

He didn't bother to take out a city permit (which would have called for inspection of the job) or...