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NYU student in fair condition after being freed from narrow space

By Haley Draznin, CNN
updated 7:01 AM EST, Tue November 5, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Student doesn't remember how he became trapped, his mother says
  • Asher Vongtau is hospitalized after nearly two days in a narrow space
  • The NYU student was trapped between a dorm and a garage
  • The Fire Department rescued the 19-year-old Sunday evening

(CNN) -- A New York University student spent nearly two days trapped in a narrow shaft between two buildings in lower Manhattan, a Fire Department of New York spokesman said Monday.

The student, 19-year-old sophomore Asher Vongtau, is in fair condition after being rescued Sunday evening from the tight space between an NYU residence hall at 80 Lafayette St. and a garage, a spokeswoman for Bellevue Hospital Center said.

The teen's mom, Habiba Vongtau told CNN affiliate WABC that her son "really can't remember" how he became trapped. He has "broken bones, arm and contusions" and a possibly fractured pelvis, Habiba Vongtau said.

A public safety sergeant discovered the student wedged into the space when he heard moaning, John Beckman, a university spokesman, told CNN.

The Fire Department quickly responded to an emergency call at 5:07 p.m. Sunday.

It took almost 90 minutes to free the student, a Fire Department spokesman said. Firefighters used pneumatic tools to break through three layers of cinder block.

"Our understanding is that the student was conscious and able to communicate with rescuers throughout the rescue," Beckman said.

University officials first received word of a missing student early Sunday. Later that day, some of his possessions were found at Lafayette Hall, a dormitory.

It is unclear how the student got stuck in the space.

"We are very glad to say that at least that student was found safe, and mostly sound, and was rescued," Beckman said.

He is being treated at Bellevue Hospital Center.

The student's father, Lulufa Vongtau, says his son is studying political science at NYU. He grew up in Nigeria and moved to the United States with his mother in 2007. His mother traveled from Pittsburgh on Sunday night after news of her son's accident. His father is in Nigeria and trying to make arrangements to get to New York.

CNN's Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

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