College student dies after falling 40 feet from campus clock tower

A Fordham University student died on Sunday night following a 40-foot fall from the campus' landmark clock tower.

"It is with great sadness that I report that Sydney Monfries, a senior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, died today after sustaining a fall inside the Keating Clock tower in the early hours of the morning," Joseph McShane, the university's president, wrote in a letter sent to students, according to the New York Post. "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."

Monfries, a 22-year-old Portland, Ore., native, and her friends reportedly climbed the stairs of the off-limits Keating Hall clock tower around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning to take photos at the top of the structure.

The senior student fell through an opening in the stairs and plummeted 40 feet, sustaining trauma to her head and body, according to the New York Times.  

The area she landed in was reportedly so narrow that first responders had to lift her out with a rescue basket while performing chest compressions.

Keating Hall, one of Fordham's most iconic buildings, which houses the clock tower (Photo: Getty) 

Monfries flat-lined at the scene but was revived and rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she was placed on life support. She died on Sunday evening, one month shy of graduation. 

While the entrances to the tower are supposed to be locked, thrill-seeking students often find a way inside, the Times reports.

Lili Huang, a 21-year-old senior studying communications, told the outlet that climbing the tower has become somewhat of a rite of passage for Fordham students.

"There's the three things you have to do at Fordham. You have to ride the ram," Huang said of a statue of the university’s mascot, which students climb on to take pictures. "You have to go into the tunnels underground and you have to go into the bell tower."

School officials are investigating how Monfries and her friends gained access to the tower.

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