© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Fell from level three, woke up in lockdown

Emma Roberts
Wilson Murray
Wilson asleep in Christchurch hospital after his fall.  Murray family (supplied)

Wilson Murray fell from the third-level window of a student village apartment. When he woke up from his coma, the country was in lockdown.

Murray's fall on March 20 at about 2.20am resulted in a broken spine, punctured lung and a brain injury.

The 19-year-old Engineering student was leaning against a window louvre at Ilam Apartments, which is part of the University of Canterbury's accommodation student village.

The louvre gave way and he fell three stories to the ground.

Murray woke up from a coma six days later in Christchurch Hospital.

"Before the fall we were in Level 2. When I woke up the whole country was in lockdown. It it was quite confusing," Murray said.

He was transferred to the neurology ward for a further five days, then relocated to undergo three weeks of rehabilitation at the Laura Ferguson Trust. Meanwhile, the country the country had moved into Level 4 lockdown.

Murray's recovery was challenging throughout lockdown. His parents, Laura and Leicester Murray, had recently returned from overseas and therefore had to self-isolate for two weeks before they were able to see their son. His nurse kept them updated via phone calls.

Laura Murray said that when he was conscious she was able to FaceTime him. "He knew who I was and mouthed a few words."

The family would have lunch over the fence when he moved to Laura Ferguson Trust.

Wilson Murray started walking after 11 days. One month on, he could walk unsupervised and after five weeks in rehabilitation, returned home. 

"He walked into our house carrying his own gear," Laura Murray said.

Wilson Murray said his determination "to be able to do the things that I used to be able to do" had motivated him throughout his recovery.

As for now, he was "able to do a little bit of study, but I still get tired and can definitely feel the mental effects".

Murray family
Wilson sitting up at Christchurch hospital with assistance from nurses. Murray family

Ilam Apartments is run by Campus Living Villages (CLV), which was accused of multiple failures after the body of Mason Pendrous lay undiscovered for weeks in a UC accommodation room.

CLV has not responded to requests for comment on the incident. 

University of Canterbury vice-chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey said student wellbeing was a priority for the institution.

She said an induction programme covering student services, a code of conduct, consent awareness, belonging, inclusiveness and alcohol, drug and risks was now available to all first-year students.

"The goal is to increase understanding and awareness for first-year students to maximise their wellbeing and ensure they understand how to access all relevant support services available," de la Rey said.

The university's executive director of student life, services and communications is Lynn McClelland.

She said students, who experienced a traumatic event, were offered support including counselling, medical and health advice, and advice on special considerations for assessments.