NYU student from Pittsburgh trapped for 2 days between buildings rescued

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NEW YORK CITY - A 2012 graduate of Baldwin Whitehall School District attending New York University in Manhattan is in the hospital after he was wedged between the wall of an apartment building and a parking garage for almost two days.

Crews said they rescued 19-year-old Asher Vongtau, who disappeared early Saturday morning, on Sunday night.

Officials said the teenager fell and became trapped in a two-foot gap between the buildings.

Vongtau disappeared early Saturday morning after someone triggered a fire alarm at the apartment building and Vongtau ran back inside, officials said.

“The last person who saw him saw that he was headed upstairs,” said friend Michael Yablon. “We went to security and we said, ‘You need to go to the roof.’”

Emergency responders said they had to break through the wall of the garage to reach Vongtau.

“His legs were crossed on his side, and he was moving his right arm,” one of the firefighters who helped with the rescue said.

Vongtau, who played soccer while attending Baldwin Whitehall, is listed in fair condition.

Vongtau’s sister posted on social media, “Thanks for your concern and kind words. I just spoke to Asher and he’s doing well.”

An NYU spokesman released a statement Monday saying,” NYU's Dept of Public Safety first received word of a missing student --a male undergraduate – about 12:30 am Sunday morning from students and immediately began a search, checking the student's room, reaching out to friends, checking area emergency rooms, checking local precincts, and checking on the NYU locations where his ID had most recently been used for entry, among other efforts.  Later on Sunday, possessions of his were found at our residence hall at 80 Lafayette St., and the Public Safety Dept's efforts were focused there.

One of our Public Safety sergeants in the course of his search of the building extended his search to a narrow space between our building and an abutting garage, where he discovered someone wedged into the space and heard moaning.  The FDNY and the NYPD were immediately called; they responded and rescued the student.  Our understanding is that the student was conscious and able to communicate with rescuers throughout the rescue.  The student was transported to the hospital.

The circumstances of how the student came to be in this space remain unclear to us.  We are very glad to say the least that student was found safe and mostly sound and was 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, proud of the student’s friends who reported him missing and were so concerned about him, and proud of our Public Safety officer for looking in what would have been an unlikely spot for a student to be.

 We believe that we can learn something from every incident, even ones that have a happy ending, and so our Public Safety Department will be reviewing what happened here with an eye towards what, if any, lessons should be incorporated for our response to missing person reports going forward.”