Missing NYU Student Found Trapped Between Buildings

Friends say school initially didn't believe he was missing

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 4, 2013 8:20 AM CST

(Newser) – No one is entirely sure how 19-year-old Asher Vongtau wound up wedged in the 18- to 24-inch-wide space between a New York University dorm and a neighboring parking garage, but that's where the missing student was found last night, some 36 hours after his friends first tried to report him missing. A school security officer heard him moaning for help, and summoned firefighters, who burst through the cinder block wall, gave him oxygen and IV fluids, and whisked him to the hospital, where he remains in serious condition, the New York Times reports.

The story leading up to that 90-minute rescue is less clear. Here's what we know:

  • One friend reports seeing him in the dorm—which wasn't Vongtau's own—Saturday morning, but says he didn't see him file out when a fire alarm sounded.
  • Another tells the New York Post that Vongtau left his room in the dorm that morning, and that he and some other friends tried to report him missing that night, telling security "that he was gone and was last seen heading to the roof" of what the Post describes as an 18-story building. "They thought it was a joke. They didn't want to check the cameras until tomorrow." That same friend tells the Daily News that someone "saw him running up the stairs Saturday morning."
  • When the school did look into the matter, it found Vongtau's cellphone on the dorm roof. The search also involved checking local emergency rooms and his NYU ID's use history, NBC New York reports.
  • Vongtau's mother calls her son "the most responsible kid in the world," and says that he has fractured his skull, pelvis, and arm and has lung and spleen contusions.

Asher Vongtau is wheeled into an ambulance in this screenshot from a television report.   (NBC New York)
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A local television report on the rescue.   (NBC New York)

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