A Fordham University student died Sunday evening after falling from the Bronx school’s iconic clock tower in the early morning hours while climbing to the top to take pictures of the city skyline, the university said.
The victim, 22-year-old Sydney Monfries, was walking up the stairs inside the Keating Hall tower with a group of fellow seniors when she tripped on a landing and fell 40 feet through an opening in the stairs around 3:15 a.m., cops said.
“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…” Fordham President Joseph McShane announced via text just before 7 p.m. Sunday.
“There are no words sufficient to describe the loss of someone so young and full of promise — and mere weeks from graduation,” he wrote, adding that Monfries would receive her bachelor’s degree posthumously, which will be presented to her parents “at the appropriate time.”
A Palm Sunday mass that had been scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday was conducted at 7 p.m. in the University church to include Monfries in the service.
“It was filled. There were people outside the church at the doors. We were saying prayers in unity because we felt so horrible about what was happening and we all understood the gravity of the situation,” said Jack DeBruin, 19, a Fordham freshman who hails from Delaware.
“I can’t imagine what they’re thinking, the friends, they must feel horrible. The service helped.”
Andrea Peraza, 19, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College who attends mass at Fordham, said people heard of Monfries death during the service.
“All her friends started to cry,” said Peraza. “At the end, they had a little celebration for her. The priest said commend her soul to God. And everyone cried.”
A fellow student saw Monfries at an E. Fordham Rd. restaurant where he was working about an hour before the tragic accident.
“She was with a group of friends,” said the friend, who only gave his first name as Dave. “She waved and said goodbye. I assumed she was going home.”
The friend, who is also a senior, later heard the gruesome details from his roommate, who went with Monfries to the clock tower, about a five-minute walk from the restaurant.
“He told me some seniors went to the tower to take some pictures and have a good time before graduating,'” Dave, 22, said. “They were like, ‘We’re seniors. Let’s go.’”
When Monfries fell from the landing, “she couldn’t breathe,” Dave said
adding that his roommate was still extremely distraught.
Paramedics had trouble getting a pulse when they arrived at the scene but were eventually able to revive the Portland, Ore., native after she suffered a traumatic cardiac arrest, sources said.
She was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital with serious head trauma in critical condition and was on life support Sunday before she died of her injuries, authorities and sources said.
Monfries’ inconsolable mother was seen crying at the hospital Sunday afternoon, accompanied by a priest.
“I don’t know anything. I know nothing. I just came from Kentucky,” said a cousin of the victim at the hospital. “I haven’t talked to her mom or her dad or anything so I can’t say anything.”
Monfries was studying journalism with a focus on digital technology and emerging media, and interning in the photo department at InStyle magazine, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Recent social media photos show her enjoying the warm spring weather with friends.
In January, Monfries asked Facebook friends to donate money to the Alzheimer’s Association for her birthday in lieu of gifts.
He friend Dave described her as “a really great girl, always smiling. She’d always come in (to the restaurant), always say hi. She was never in trouble,” he said.
The Gothic-style clock tower is normally locked to students, according to Fordham spokesman Bob Howe, though police sources say it has become tradition among daredevils to sneak in and climb to the top for a better view of campus.
“The student apparently climbed into the clock tower with friends,” Howe said. “University officials are investigating how the students gained access to the tower.”