After a fall from the 15th floor of an Auckland, New Zealand skyscraper, a 20-year-old British man is recovering today in the intensive care unit. Scary as it sounds, Tom Stilwell is now predicted to make a full recovery.
"He's absolutely fine...He's a very lucky man," his friend, 22-year-old Dave Thomas, told The New Zealand Herald.
Thomas added that Stilwell doesn't remember the fall from the 15th floor of the apartment building where they share a flat.
Don't get me wrong. Falling that far is no picnic. Stilwell was first admitted to the hospital in critical condition, although he is now listed as satisfactory. He will have a long recovery process from multiple bone fractures.
According to neighbor Geraldine Bautista, Stilwill knocked on her door around 2 am. After a night of partying, he had returned home intoxicated to discover that he was locked out of his own apartment on the 14th floor. Bautista reported:
"[H]e just requested 'Can you please let me jump off from the balcony? I will not bother you, just let me use your balcony...I never thought he would really do that. In my mind I thought 'Okay, I'll just let you see that it's really impossible."
Fueled by alcohol, Stilwell did in fact attempt the stunt -- only to slip and fall 13 stories before he slammed into a roof facing the building.
Ironically, it turned out that his lost roommates were only minutes behind him. If he had only waited, they could have unlocked the door. As it was, they arrived in time to find the police seeking information about the identity of the fallen man.
Medical director Tony Smith gave the credit for Stilwell's survival to the roof that broke his fall -- not to the alcohol that apparently inspired the stunt in the first place. He said that there's no medical evidence for the urban legend that alcohol relaxes the body to make it more likely that a victim would survive a fall from a great height.
Apparently, Stilwell did indeed get very lucky to survive the fall from the 15th floor.
[Auckland, New Zealand apartment photo by QFSE Media via Wikimedia Commons]