David Senior's 36-foot fall off the balcony of a St. Pete Beach hotel is notable because he was relatively unharmed. But he hardly fell into the annals of historic plunges in which people survived. Last year, New York City window washer Alcides Moreno survived a fall of 47 stories. His brother was killed in the fall. Moreno was traveling about 124 mph when he hit the ground, according to published reports, though his fall likely was cushioned by scaffolding that he clung to on the way down. Moreno broke 10 bones and suffered brain and spinal column injuries. He underwent 16 surgeries.
Senior was traveling about 33 mph when his 36-foot fall ended on a concrete ledge Tuesday night.
Survival is often a function of an old adage: It's not the fall that kills you, it's the landing. In short, landing on the skull is almost always fatal, according to a study of 200 falls by Fordham Misericordia Hospital. Landing in a manner that damages the pelvic area or the nearby organs can lead to death. Feet-first is almost always better. People 20 to 40 have a markedly higher survival rate than those younger than 10 or older than 51. Alcides Moreno was 37; Senior is 26.