A 22-year-old District of Columbia man apparently escaped with minor cuts yesterday after he leaped from his apartment window and fell seven floors while attempting to escape two armed intruders, D.C. police said.
Kelvin Wayne Kates, who apparently landed in a water-softened grassy area at the rear of the Golden Rule Apartments, 901 New Jersey Ave. NW, was listed in stable condition last night at George Washington Hospital. He was being held for observation.
"Every once in a while there's a miracle," said Deputy Police Chief Alphonso D. Gibson. "This looks like one of those cases."
A woman companion of Kates said that she was raped by the intruders, police said. She was treated and released from George Washington.
According to D.C. Fire Department Capt. Thomas Gregory, who was on the scene shortly after the 3 a.m. incident, Kates appeared to be hysterical when police and the fire rescue squad personnel arrived. He had to be subdued by three or four men, who handcuffed him and wrapped him in a sheet before removing him on a stretcher.
Gregory said that, from the impression in the earth, Kates appeared to have landed, at least in part, on his hands and knees, about three feet from a tall pipe supporting a sapling. "He's a very, very lucky young man," Gregory said.
According to D.C. police, who said they interviewed Kates and a woman companion who said she was in the apartment when Kates jumped, the couple was accosted by two armed men shortly after arriving at Kates' apartment around 3 a.m.
Police said Kates told them that the men followed the couple to the apartment, forced their way in, tied him up and put him in the bathroom.
In an interview from his hospital bed last night, Kates said that one intruder told him to "take a good look at my face; it's the last one you'll ever see."
Kates said that he was convinced the gunmen would kill him and his companion. He said that the gunmen said they were looking for money they believed he had in the apartment.
Kates said that the gunmen bound him with his companion's hose, and that he could hear her pleas through the bathroom door.
He said that after he worked himself free, he ran out of the bathroom, jumped onto a bed and dived head first through the window in a desperate effort to startle the gunmen.
"I jumped to save her," Kates said from his hospital bed, nodding to the woman who was standing by his side. He said he figured that the noise would scare the intruders.
While falling, Kates said in the hospital interview, he thought, "I have to land on all fours," like a cat, to cushion the fall.
"Most people who fall from a distance like that never make it off the ground," said Debra Erickson, a supervising nurse in the intensive care unit where Kates was being treated.
Dr. Robert Shesser, an emergency room physician at George Washington, said that "if you dropped 100 people from seven stories, most of those people would have very serious problems, but as with anything in life, it's a matter of percentages."
Relatives of Kates told a reporter at the hospital that he was a construction worker and a runner and weight lifter.
A hospital spokesman said that Kates' was the second such fall this week.
On Monday, a construction worker was treated for minor injuries after falling seven floors at a job site, he said.