Authorities say Sydney Paige Monfries, 22, of Portland, Ore., died after falling from the first floor of a Fordham University bell tower. She was a Journalism major who was scheduled to graduate soon.
According to the New York Post, Monfries and some pals were apparently taking part in what has become a rite of passage for seniors at the elite Bronx school, scaling the Keating Hall clock tower, touching its bell and taking photos outside one of its top windows. Around 3 a.m., they snuck in and were climbing its spiral staircase when she tripped over some debris on a landing and tumbled down 40 feet, smashing the back of her head.
The New York Police Department says a 911 call came in around 3 a.m. Sunday.
When emergency responders arrived at the scene, they found the 22-year-old woman lying on the ground on the second floor of the tower with trauma to her head and hardly any pulse. Unable to maneuver her stretcher through the narrow stairway and time running out, medics loaded her into a rescue basket and began hoisting it, with an emergency responder riding along to perform chest compressions.
Monfries was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital in extremely critical condition, where she later died.
The university is investigating how the students gained access to the tower. “Access to that tower is always locked,” school spokesman Bob Howe told The Post. “University officials are investigating how the students gained access to the tower.”
It was too early to tell whether the door was open or the lock had been tampered with, Howe said.