Early Saturday morning, a man crashed through a window on the 17th floor of a downtown Minneapolis hotel and is still alive today. In most cases, a fall that far, about 160 feet, would be instantly fatal.
How could it happen and how could he survive? Science supplies some good answers.
First, the man landed on his feet on a metal canopy about a one story over the pavement outside of the hotel. The elasticity of the metal of that canopy helped absorb a lot of the impact the man made in falling. A physicist on one television report of the incident calculated that the man fell that far in about three seconds and would have been going 65 to 70 miles per hour at the time of the impact.
He was still being treated for his injuries Monday at a Minneapolis hotel. He suffered a severely broken right leg, two collapsed lungs and a torn trachea in the incident. He was initially induced into a coma to help stabilize his body before doctors treated his injuries.
By Monday, he was able to respond to questions from doctors and family by squeezing their hands. At the time of the crash, he was conscious and communicative with rescuers who came to his aid at the scene.
The man who fell through the window weighs between 250 and 300 pounds. Minneapolis building officials estimate that a person that size leaning against the window with all of his weight could break through glass that meets today’s codes which call for glass to be a strength of holding at least 50 pounds per square foot.
Other press accounts note that the man, from Wisconsin, was in the Twin Cities for a darts tournament being held at the hotel. He had been out partying with friends and was horsing around at the hotel late at night before the incident. He apparently was running down the hallway on the 17th floor, lost his balance and crashed through the window.