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Drunk Man Survives Fall From 13th-Story Balcony in New Zealand

By Clyde Hughes   |   Tuesday, 18 Jun 2013 10:17 AM

A 20-year-old British man found out Sunday that drinking and climbing is as dangerous as drinking and driving, after he narrowly survived a 13-story fall off an apartment balcony in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Herald reported that doctors admitted Tom Stilwell to the intensive care unit at Auckland City Hospital after the fall. Fortunately, they upgraded him to "satisfactory" condition the following day, expecting him to make a full recovery.

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The New Zealand Herald reported that Stilwell, who works at Auckland Transport, was out with friends when he returned to his apartment complex. For an unexplained reason, he awoke neighbor Geraldine Bautista, who lived in the apartment above his on the 15th floor and asked if he could use her balcony to lower himself into his apartment, the newspaper reported.

"I never thought he would really do that," Bautista told the Herald, describing Stilwell as "a little tipsy." "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."

But when Stilwell made a beeline to her balcony and placed his legs across the railing, Bautista realized he was serious.

"I asked him 'Are you all right? It's unsafe to jump over the rail,'" Bautista recalled telling Stilwell.

That is when she said Stilwell fell of the balcony's railing, dropping 13 stories before smashing into the roof of an adjacent building, the newspaper reported.

Medical director Dr. Tony Smith told The Herald that surviving a fall like that was "extraordinary." Smith said Stilwell was likely saved by landing on the roof of a building instead of the ground.

"We've seen patients in Auckland who have had their falls broken by awnings over windows, umbrellas, those sorts of things," Smith told The Herald. "From that sort of height you can have injuries to everything and anything. Survival from falls of that height are extraordinarily unusual."

The fall fractured Stilwell's neck, back, and wrist, his roommate Dave Thomas told the Daily Mail, who said his friend had a "fair bit to drink" before the fall.

"He can't remember anything about the fall,' Thomas told The Daily Mail. "He's a very lucky man."

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A 20-year-old Great Britain man found out Sunday the drinking and climbing is as dangerous as drinking and driving, after he narrowly survived a 13-story fall off an apartment balcony in New Zealand.

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