AUCKLAND, New Zealand (TheBlaze/AP) — When Geraldine Bautista heard a knock on her 15th-floor apartment door at 2 a.m. Sunday, she knew the news couldn’t be good.
She was right.
It was her neighbor Thomas Stilwell, 20, who lives in the unit just underneath hers.
She said he appeared to have been drinking but wasn’t fearful of him. Stilwell was locked out of his apartment and had a novel idea.
“He just requested `Can you please let me jump off from the balcony? I will not bother you, just let me use your balcony,’” Bautista said.
She said she never thought he would follow through.
“In my mind I thought `OK, I’ll just let you see that it’s really impossible. I didn’t think he’d jump, because it’s really scary,” Bautista said.
When she let him in, Stilwell quickly walked through her apartment and climbed over the railing on the balcony, looking to scale down the outside of the building.
Bautista said she grabbed at his hand but he fell.
“It happened so fast. It happened within seconds. I couldn’t even scream for help. He was like a paper falling from here,” she said.
Stilwell landed on the roof of a building adjacent to the Volt apartments far below. He was at first listed in critical condition but had improved Monday to a satisfactory condition.
The New Zealand Herald newspaper identified Stilwell as a Briton in the country on a working holiday. Friend Dave Thomas told the paper Stilwell had suffered neck and back fractures, a broken wrist, and suspected internal injuries.
St. John Medical Director Dr. Tony Smith told the paper that surviving falls from such heights was “extraordinarily unusual” but that the roof of the low-rise building far below likely broke Stilwell’s fall enough to save his life.