A Fordham University student who climbed the campus’ landmark bell tower Sunday to snap photos of the New York City skyline has died after she accidentally fell, the university said.
Sydney Monfries, a 22-year-old senior, was taking part in a 3 a.m. climb when she fell through an opening on the first landing of the tower, plummeted 40 feet and struck her head, the New York Post reported. Her condition had been listed as critical at a hospital in the Bronx not far from the Fordham campus, but on Sunday evening, the university’s president announced her death in an email to students.
“Our hearts go out to Sydney’s parents, and her family and friends—theirs is an unimaginable loss, and we share their grief,” Rev. Joseph M. McShane wrote. “There are no words sufficient to describe the loss of someone so young and full of promise—and mere weeks from graduation. Fordham will confer a bachelor’s degree upon Sydney posthumously, which we will present to her parents at the appropriate time.”
Students said climbing the tower, touching the bell and taking photos of the sweeping views were part of a senior-year “rite of passage,” according to the paper.
“I heard they were just getting a better view of the city,” a senior told the paper. “I think they were posting on Instagram when it happened.”
Fordham parents reacted quickly to the news.
Freshman Grayson Brown, 19, told the Post his mother sent him a text Sunday that said “stay out of the bell tower!”
Recently, a visitor to the Grand Canyon fell to his death while taking a photo from a dangerous perch, according to reports.
Two months ago, it was reported that a Texas teen was lucky to be alive after surviving a fall in November from the top of a bridge he had climbed to take a selfie.
Last October, a new study by researchers in India found that more than 250 people worldwide have died while taking selfies in the last six years, The Washington Post reported.