(CBS/AP) --Firefighters rescued a 19-year-old New York University student who became trapped between two buildings in lower Manhattan.
Officials say rescue workers had to breach a concrete wall to gain access to Asher Vongtau, who was found wedged in an area about six to 18 inches wide between an NYU dorm and a parking garage Sunday evening.
It took rescue workers over an hour and half to pull the student out. They say he told them he was stuck there for nearly two days, reports CBS New York station WCBS-TV.
Police say Vongtau was conscious and taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. WCBS says he was speaking, and CBS New York radio station WINS says he was moving. In a statement, NYU says Vongtau was moaning when found.
Friends tell WCBS Vongtau went missing around 7 a.m Saturday morning after a false fire alarm in his dorm. “I saw him frantically running up the stairs while people were exiting the building because the fire alarm had been pulled,” says friend Colin Chenel.
An NYU spokesperson says Vongtau was reported missing to the school’s Public Safety Department Saturday night and NYU immediately began a search. Friends claim campus security did nothing until Sunday afternoon. “Had we not told the security guards, the three of us 19 year old students, to check the roof, they would not have found him for who knows how long and he would probably be dead right now,” insists friend Michael Yablon remarked to WCBS.
The school said in the statement, “The circumstances of how the student came to be in this space are unclear to us. We are glad that student was found and rescued, pleased that his condition was such that he was able to remain conscious and alert during the rescue, grateful to the FDNY and NYPD for their quick response and excellent work, and proud of our Public Safety officer for looking in what would have been an unlikely spot for a student to be.”
It remained unclear how Vongtau got stuck and for how long. A fire official said the only way to get to the site is from above.
Campus cops discovered Vongtau’s cellphone on the roof of the dorm, says WCBS, adding investigators say they’re not sure if he fell from the roof. Sources close to the investigations say they think he may have been under the influence of a controlled substance.