Hawaii student describes men's plummet from 14th-floor dorm

AP News
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Posted: Aug 21, 2015 7:08 PM

HONOLULU (AP) — The University of Hawaii sophomore who lived in a 14th-floor campus apartment where a man fell to his death from a window ledge while trying to stop a suicide recalled Friday watching both men plummet.

"The glass panel they were holding on to shattered, and I couldn't do anything to stop them," Ted Guillory, 19, said. "All I could do is watch as they fell all 14 floors to the ground."

Guillory and his roommates threw a party Saturday night. There were about 20 to 30 people in the two-bedroom unit on the top floor of a tower in the Hale Wainani student housing complex at the university's flagship Manoa campus.

"The party started going bad ... around the end of it," Guillory said, recalling that was about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. "I have to leave some details out. There were a few fights."

He declined to answer questions about alcohol. A university spokesman has said there's no information to indicate any alcohol was in the apartment at the time.

A 19-year-old guest at the party who was involved in one of the fights became upset and went out a window onto a ledge outside Guillory's bedroom.

"I had just met him the night before, so I don't know much about him," Guillory said. "I was trying to pull him by his head, his neck, his shirt ... but I wasn't going to put my whole body out there. That would be dangerous. He could have pulled me over."

After a while, another guest — one of Guillory's best friends, Thomas Bennett, 24, — climbed out of the window in an attempt to calm the other man down and bring him inside.

"I walked over and I grabbed his arm. I said, 'Tommy, that's dangerous get back inside.' He said, 'I'm not going to let go. I'm going to save him,' " Guillory recalled.

Bennett and the 19-year-old were standing side-by-side on the narrow ledge.

"Everybody was panicking and yelling at them to get back inside," Guillory said, adding that one of the partygoers called police.

The 19-year-old threatened to jump if he saw any police. Officers who arrived were asked to stay outside the apartment because of that threat, Guillory said.

At some point, the 19-year-old said he would come back inside if someone would retrieve his hat, which had fallen to the ground.

"Even though it seemed like an odd request, I told everyone in the room to go get his hat," Guillory said. "It was just me left in the room yelling at them to get back inside.

Bennett continued trying to calm the man down.

After both fell, "I was completely alone. I felt like I couldn't even move at that point," Guillory said. "I eventually walked and crawled to the door."

Outside the door, there were officers and partygoers. "I was screaming that they fell," he said, recalling others groaning and screaming. "I was yelling Tommy's name."

Downstairs, Guillory watched as the two men on stretchers were wheeled into an ambulance.

Bennett was pronounced dead at the hospital, police said. The 19-year-old remained hospitalized in serious condition.

Guillory has since moved to a first-floor apartment in another student housing complex.

"I don't even want to be off the ground, really," he said. "I walked out onto a balcony recently ... I used to love heights, but now I can't stand them because of what I saw."

The university is offering counseling, and Guillory said he'll "receive as much help as I can get."

Guillory and Bennett, a construction and landscaping worker originally from England, met about a year ago and became close friends. Bennett and the 19-year-old, who weren't university students, were friends for a while, Guillory said.

"Tommy died for him," he said. "He needs to turn his life around ... If not, Tommy died for nothing."

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Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at http://www.twitter.com/JenHapa .