Published June 17, 2013
A 20-year-old British man on a work trip to New Zealand is lucky to be alive after surviving a fall from the 15th floor of an apartment building.
When Tom Stillwell woke up in a hospital with back and neck fractures and a broken wrist after the incident, his first words to nurses were “what an idiot.”
Despite his injuries, Stillwell is expected to make a full recovery, the New Zealand Herald reported.
On a business trip in Auckland, the transport worker was out drinking with fellow travelers when he became separated from his group and made his way back to the city apartment complex where he was staying, according to a Sky News report.
Locked out of his apartment, he awakened a neighbor early Sunday morning to ask if he could lower himself down from her 15th floor balcony to his unit, directly beneath.
The neighbor, 28-year-old Geraldine Bautista, said she didn’t think he would make the leap.
"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 (to gain access to his apartment)'. I didn't think he'd jump, because it's really scary," Sky News reported Bautista said.
But before she could stop him, Stillwell had one leg over the railing and then slipped from her grasp.
"He never said anything ... I grabbed his hand and then at that time ... he fell down. I thought I was dreaming. It happened so fast. It happened within seconds. I couldn't even scream for help."
Stillwell plunged about 13 floors before landing on the roof of a nearby building.
He’s in satisfactory condition at Auckland City Hospital with broken bones in his neck and back and possible internal injuries. When nurses explained to him what happened, Stillwell was unable to speak because of tubes down his throat. He then described himself as an “idiot” to nurses on a writing board.
Stillwell doesn’t remember anything from the incident.
"He's absolutely fine ... He's a very lucky man," said his friend Dave Thomas, who was with him at the hospital. “He's very happy, speaking normal and back to his old jokey self," Thomas said.