Man recovering in hospital after surviving plunge from 15th floor apartment in New Zealand

  • Updated: June 16, 2013 - 9:25 PM

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — A man was recovering in a hospital Monday after surviving a plunge from the 15th floor of his New Zealand apartment building.

Police said the 20-year-old man discovered he was locked out of his 14th floor unit in the Volt Apartment building in downtown Auckland at about 2 a.m. Sunday.

He decided to try and scale down the outside of the building from an apartment directly above his. Police said he was trying to land on his balcony when he fell, landing on the roof of an adjacent building far below.

He was at first listed in critical condition but had improved Monday to a satisfactory condition.

The New Zealand Herald newspaper identified the man as Tom Stilwell, a Briton in the country on a working holiday. Friend Dave Thomas told the paper Stilwell had suffered neck and back fractures, a broken wrist, and suspected internal injuries.

Volt Apartment resident Geraldine Bautista told the paper that Stilwell knocked on her door on the 15th floor at about 2 a.m. She said he appeared to have been drinking but she wasn't fearful of him.

"He just requested 'Can you please let me jump off from the balcony? I will not bother you, just let me use your balcony,'" Bautista said.

She said she never thought he would follow through.

"In my mind I thought 'OK, I'll just let you see that it's really impossible. I didn't think he'd jump, because it's really scary," Bautista told the paper.

She said after she opened the door, he quickly walked through the apartment and climbed over the railing on the balcony. Bautista said she grabbed at his hand but he fell.

"It happened so fast. It happened within seconds. I couldn't even scream for help. He was like a paper falling from here," she said.

St. John Medical Director Dr. Tony Smith told the paper that surviving falls from such heights was "extraordinarily unusual" but that the roof of the low-rise building far below likely broke Stilwell's fall enough to save his life.

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