Student wedged between New York buildings for up to two days is freed

Student wedged between New York buildings for up to two days is freed

By Victoria Cavaliere

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A college student reported missing by friends was recovering on Monday after being pulled from a narrow space between two buildings in New York City, where he had been trapped for up to two days, fire officials said.

Asher Vongtau, 19, an undergraduate at New York University, was found conscious and moaning Sunday afternoon after somehow becoming wedged in a crevice between a five-story parking garage and a 17-story dormitory building in Lower Manhattan, university officials said.

It took firefighters 90 minutes to extract Vongtau from an approximately 18-inch-wide gap between the buildings. Crews had to drill through a cinderblock wall to get to him, according to a spokesman with the New York City Fire Department.

He was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition, the spokesman said. On Monday, his condition was reported to be serious.

The only way into the gap appeared to be from the roofs of the buildings.

"The circumstances of how the student came to be in this space are unclear to us," John Beckman, vice president for Public Affairs at NYU, said in a statement.

Vongtau was not a resident of the building where he was discovered, Beckman said. He declined to confirm local media reports that the student was from Nigeria.

Vongtau's friends had first reported him missing on Saturday and campus police were able to narrow down his whereabouts by tracing where he had used his electronic ID card for entry.

While searching the dormitory, a public safety officer found some of Vongtau's possessions and then discovered him stuck and groaning in the crevice.

It was not yet known how long he had been wedged in the space.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Maureen Bavdek)