Student dies after fall from tower at Fordham University

FORDHAM, Bronx -- A Fordham University student died after falling from a bell tower on campus early Sunday.

School President Joseph McShane says 22-year-old Sydney Monfries, a senior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, died due to injuries sustained in the fall inside the Keating Clock tower.

Police say a group of seniors decided to climb the tower around 3 a.m. to get a view of the city skyline.

They say Monfries managed to climb to the top before she fell through a hole in one of the stairway landings and subsequently dropped 30 to 40 feet inside the tower.

When emergency responders arrived at the scene, they found her lying on the ground inside the tower with trauma to her head and body.

She was transported to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she later died.

University officials are investigating how the group of students gained access to the tower, which is normally locked.

While some students said getting inside the tower is a "must do," many said they have never heard of being allowed inside.

"Being in that building, there's no sort of methodology or way to have access to that, in my personal opinion," student Sean Johnson said. "Don't really know how they got up there."

Another student, Emma Azizo, said she thinks it's scary and dangerous.

"I really feel bad for the person," she said. "I don't think they went up there with the intention thinking it was possible to fall."

The university said Monfries, who was set to graduate next month, will receive a posthumous bachelor's degree.

Her father Wayne, mother Susan and sister Caitlyn would have attended the graduation, along with long-time family friend David Barfield.

"Susan told me when she came to school she didn't have just one group, she had three or four groups," said Barfield. "She loved them and they loved her just as much."

Monfries was with a group of friends when she fell to her death Sunday morning.

"I was just with Susan and she said, 'I've lost my best friend'. They are heartbroken," said Barfield. "It's the hardest thing I've ever had to witness."

Monfries was an intern at InStyle Magazine, and planned to stay in New York City and work.

Wayne said his daughter was a kind soul with a magnetic personality who adored her little sister, and the feeling was mutual.

"She was Daddy's little girl and one of the things that Wayne celebrated every year was the father daughter dance," said Barfield.

David said he will always remember how Sydney and Caitlyn rallied around his then 3-year-old daughter when she learned how to swim.

"They gave her a hug and big high-five and she absolutely loved it," said Barfield. "It gave her so much encouragement and pride. It was wonderful."
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