NYU student rescued after getting wedged between 2 buildings

Kemberly Richardson reports from Kips Bay.
November 4, 2013 2:29:10 PM PST
An NYU student is recovering Monday after he became trapped between two buildings in Lower Manhattan and needed to be rescued.

Rescue workers had to breach a concrete wall to gain access to 19-year-old Asher Vongtau, who is listed in serious but stable condition at Bellevue Hospital after he was found wedged in an area about six to 18 inches wide next to 80 Lafayette Street just after 5 p.m. Sunday.

The sophomore was wedged in the coffin-sized space for two days.

It's unclear how he got stuck between the two buildings, an 18-story NYU dorm and a parking garage, but he was talking to responders who spent over an hour and a half working to free him.

Vongtau's mother traveled overnight to New York City to be by her son's side. She told Eyewitness News that Asher doesn't remember the events that led up to him falling.

"He really can't remember up until when he fell in there, exactly what happened, maybe as he comes to," mom Habiba Vongtau said. "[He has] broken bones, arm, and contusions, and cracked, I think fractured pelvis."


Friends reported him missing following a fire alarm in the dorm Saturday morning. They called authorities to file a missing persons report, but were also told to check the roof of the building.

An NYU public safety officer found Vongtau's cell phone and heard his moans coming from the shaft below.

"We went door-to-door asking people what they knew about him, and one person told us the last that they'd seen, he was headed up the stairs," friend Michael Yablon said. "So we went to security and said, 'Hey guys, you need to go on the roof and check the roof.' And that's where they found his cell phone, and that's how they found him."

It appears Vongtau may have fallen out of a fifth floor window to get wedged between the buildings. NYU officials say that immediately after receiving the report, they began to look for him.