Miracle fall survivor 'looks alright'

23:47, Jun 16 2013
Tom Stilwell
TOM STILWELL: Talking and laughing despite his 15-storey fall.

A young man who survived a fall from the 15th storey of an Auckland apartment building has avoided paralysis, and is already awake and laughing.

Briton Tom Stilwell, 20, is expected to be moved out of intensive care at Auckland City Hospital today after falling from the top floor of the Volt Apartment building in Auckland city early yesterday.

The Auckland Transport worker suffered back and neck fractures as well as internal injuries, a broken wrist and grazes, but is expected to be up and about in a week, according to his flatmate Beth Goodwin.

"He looks alright," Goodwin, 22, said. "He's got cuts but not on his face, the worst are his wrists.

"It's more internal injuries. He's broken some bones in his ribs and neck but they're not important bones."

Stilwell had an operation to clean a wound in his back and may need another for his wrist, but he is breathing on his own, Goodwin said.

Goodwin and Stilwell were returning from a night out with friends when they found themselves locked out of the apartment about 2am. The rest of the group was just 10 minutes behind, but Goodwin said that Stilwell - rather than wait for them - went upstairs and knocked on the door to ask if he could climb from their balcony into his window.

A stunned 28-year-old Geraldine Bautista let him in. "I could see in his face that he was tipsy, not really drunk,'' she said today.

"He said 'please, I won't really bother you'. I thought he was joking.

"I thought I can let him know that I'd do a favour for him, I'll show him the balcony and let him know it's really impossible."

Before she could react Stilwell had hoisted himself over the ledge.

She grabbed his hand but lost grip and he dropped, landing on the corrugated roof of a ground floor administration building.

"He didn't even scream. He just fell, then there was a loud noise that was heard all over," Bautista said.

"I had to remind myself it was not just a thing that had fallen, it was a human."

Firefighters, ambulance staff and police had arrived by the time Bautista got downstairs to see where Stilwell was.

Bautista's flatmate slept through the whole thing, but Bautista spent the rest of the night in a panic.

"It was like a dream. If he'd died I could not have forgiven myself, I let that guy enter the room and jump.

"Perhaps I could have offered him a nap on this couch instead."

She was relieved yesterday to hear from Stilwell's flatmates that he was awake and laughing, with no memory of what had occurred.

His flatmates, one of whom knew Stilwell from his hometown of Brighton, say the incident was completely out of character.

"He doesn't remember," Goodwin said. "He's just so lucky."


Geraldine Bautista
GERALDINE BATISTA: 'He didn't even scream. He just fell, then there was a loud noise that was heard all over.'