Losing your keys while you're drunk is something that happens to most people, eventually. What doesn't usually happen is the next part of 20-year-old Tom Stilwell's story: surviving a fall from a neighbor's 15th floor balcony at 2 a.m. after attempting to jump to a balcony below.
After a night of drinking during a “working holiday” in Auckland, New Zealand, Stilwell, a British resident, split off from his friends and returned to his 14th floor apartment. Upon realizing he'd lost his keys, Stilwell got an an idea: he'd go upstairs to his neighbor's apartment, wake her up, and make the climb/jump from her balcony to his.
That neighbor, Geraldine Bautista, told the New Zealand Herald that Stilwell appeared “a little bit tipsy.”
"I wasn't scared of him - he just requested 'Can you please let me jump off from the balcony? I will not bother you just let me use your balcony ...'
"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."
Stilwell quickly crossed Bautista's apartment and, before she realized what was happening, climbed over the railing of her balcony. He lost his grip and fell. “It happened so fast,” Bautista said. “I couldn't even scream for help. He was like a paper falling from here.”
Stilwell fell roughly 13 stories, eventually landing on the roof of a nearby building. He was taken to a local hospital, where's he's in critical but stable condition, with back and neck fractures, a broken wrist, and internal injuries.
Stilwell's roommate, Dave Thomas, returned to the building just 15 minutes later and was immediately approached by police seeking someone to identify Stilwell. Thomas said he was shocked by the incident and called Stilwell a “very lucky man.”
“He's normally the sensible one of all of us,” he said.