It's "a miracle" that a New York University student who fell more than 10 stories and spent nearly two days trapped in a narrow shaft between two buildings in lower Manhattan is alive, his mother told CNN Tuesday.
The student, 19-year-old sophomore Asher Vongtau, is in fair condition after being rescued Sunday evening from the tight space between an NYU residence hall at 80 Lafayette St. and a garage, a spokeswoman for Bellevue Hospital Center said Monday.
While trapped, Vongtau was supporting his entire body weight on his left arm, and required immediate surgery once he was rescued, according to his mother. He has broken bones, contusions and possibly a fractured pelvis, and there is "no natural reason why he should be alive," said his mother, Habiba Vongtau.
He is responding well to medication and is working with his doctors, but is still in a lot of pain, according to his mother.
Asher Vongtau was in and out of consciousness throughout the ordeal, and fantasized about drinking water, his mother told CNN. She said he screamed for help when he was conscious.
She said her son's memory is foggy about the moments leading up to the fall, and he doesn't remember how he became trapped in the tight space. She added that he is a dedicated student and a responsible son, and that he would hang out with friends to play video games and party every now and then.
An NYU Department of Public Safety sergeant discovered the student wedged into the space after he heard moaning, John Beckman, a university spokesman, told CNN on Monday.
The fire department responded at 5:07 p.m. ET Sunday, and it took almost 90 minutes to free Vongtau. Firefighters had to use pneumatic tools to break through three layers of cinder block, according to Detective Kellyann Ort, FDNY spokeswoman.
University officials first received word of a missing student early Sunday. Later that day, some of his possessions were found at Lafayette Hall, a dormitory.
"We are very glad to say that at least that student was found safe, and mostly sound, and was rescued," Beckman said.
The student's father, Lulufa Vongtau, says his son is studying political science at NYU. He grew up in Nigeria and moved to the United States with his mother in 2007. His mother traveled from Pittsburgh on Sunday night after news of her son's accident. Lulufa Vongtau is in Nigeria and trying to make arrangements to get to New York.