And cocky University of Pittsburgh students may leap between tall buildings in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood. At least one of them did, anyway, though he failed in his stunt early Tuesday morning.
Police extracted Grant Birdsong, a 22-year-old college senior from Indiana Township, Pa., out of a 2-foot-wide gap between a Qdoba Mexican Grill and a Bruegger’s Bagels around 6 a.m. The student had a few bloody wounds and a broken ankle, but was otherwise healthy enough to offer a thumbs-up to Pittsburgh Action News 4 cameras.
How Birdsong ended up between two restaurant chains is a story that began only hours before.
At some point during the night, close to 2 a.m., Birdsong and a woman he had met earlier in the evening decided to scale a fire escape to the rooftop above Qdoba. Its roof is taller than the one over the bagel store, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. To Birdsong, apparently, the contours of the rooftop topography were an invitation to impress his date.
And he promptly missed his mark, plummeting between the two buildings. He came to rest after a three-story descent, wedged some five feet above the ground.
In sum, said Sonya Toler, a Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety representative, “the young man met a girl, brought her up to a rooftop and decided to impress her by leaping from one roof to the next,” according to the Associated Press.
Birdsong’s companion phoned the University of Pittsburgh campus police, who in turn contacted the city department. Thus began the delicate operation of removing the student.
Paramedics and police worked for four hours.
Rescuers punched a few exploratory holes to locate Birdsong, before sending a medic rappelling down the wall to find him. Then they broke out a jackhammer to carve a hole in earnest, cutting through Qboda’s interior and brick. By dawn, three layers of wall would be destroyed.
A reporter for Pittsburgh’s WTAE-TV documented the resulting destruction on Twitter:
During the rescue the police blocked off the avenue where the buildings are located. The bagel store was forced to delay its opening. Chad Brooks, owner of the Qdoba franchise, was dismayed by the ordeal — the Mexican restaurant caters to the collegiate crowd, which had only just begun to come back to campus. He told CBS Pittsburgh that the Qdoba location will likely be closed for weeks while the entire wall is replaced.
Birdsong was communicative with authorities throughout the ordeal, though by the end he was described as “numb” by Wendell Hissrich, director of Pittsburgh’s public safety department, to CBS’s KDKA 2. Paramedics extracted him via the hole and carted him away by stretcher. He remained in stable condition, an official told CBS Pittsburgh, later that afternoon.
“It is amazing, and fortunately he didn’t land on his head,” Hissrich told WTAE, “otherwise it would have been more serious and more of an urgency to get him out.”
As for the unnamed woman, it is unclear how impressive she found Birdsong’s Keanu Reeves impression of Neo. Nicole Ferres, who works at the Bruegger’s Bagels, told the Post-Gazette she had heard that the unnamed woman stuck around for the duration of the rescue. A University of Pittsburgh student told CBS that Birdsong was “an idiot” but seemed convinced that the 22-year-old had successfully wooed his companion. When asked on Twitter if the guy got the girl, Pittsburgh Public Safety Department replied, “That is something that we do not know.”