NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A 24-year-old man is expected to make a full recovery after falling about 10 stories from a Newport News high-rise on Friday.
Martin Stanford says he remembers free-falling and then having a tough time opening his eyes at the hospital. Stanford doesn’t recall the impact.
“I’m supposed to be dead right now. I’m still here breathing,” says Stanford. “I feel fine; just thankful to be alive.”
Fire officials say Stanford fell from the Maritime Square building, near 26th Street and Washington Avenue, around 1:45 p.m. on Sept. 9 while washing windows.
“When I first started dropping, I saw how high up I was,” he says. “The first thing I thought was that I’m about to die, and then I woke up in the hospital and I was still alive.”
Stanford says he stood for the first time Monday morning, following three days of surgeries. Doctors discharged him from the Intensive Care Unit late in the afternoon Monday.
Stanford could be seen eating and drinking with his own strength and even cracking a smile with co-workers who came to visit.
Stanford, who is wearing a body cast, says he has a broken arm, broken foot, broken back bones and bruises on his lungs and heart.
“I got a plate in my left arm that’s going to be there forever and some screws in my right foot that’s going to be there.”
WAVY confirmed Stanford worked for Pro Window, a company based in Virginia Beach, where he says he’s worked for a few months. Stanford says he started repelling from buildings five days before the accident.
The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry says they have an open case to investigate what went wrong.
“I wasn’t supposed to fall. The harness should have stopped me from falling and it didn’t,” says Stanford. “So, I want to know how I fell.”
Fire investigators say a man who witnessed the fall quickly called for help. Stanford says he’s thankful for the witness who gave him a second chance at life.
“I just thank him for seeing me and for calling, because if nobody saw it they would have never known I fell from the roof and I would still be hanging on the roof right now.”
A woman named Joslyn answered the phone Monday afternoon at Pro Window. She did not give her last name or position, but she said the company had no comment regarding the incident.
A spokeswoman with the Virginia Department of Labor says the agency has six months to investigate and issue any citations for wrongdoing.