MINNEAPOLIS - Doctors say the chances of an adult surviving a fall from an 11-story balcony are rare.
Somehow, 1-year-old Musa Dayib fell from a balcony on Sunday at Riverside Plaza and survived. He is critical but stable condition.
Machines are breathing for him at Hennepin County Medical Center. Both of his arms are broken. His lungs are bruised and his back is fractured.
But Dr. Tina Slusher says two things worked in his favor.
"Little (kids) are more flexible and don't break as easily as we do and he also fell in a very small patch of mulch," she said. "It's definitely a miracle. It's God's gift to his family. Kids don't fall this far and make it often. Especially without a serious brain injury. You or I would've been dead."
And perhaps, knowing little Dayib has beaten the odds made it easier for his family and others in the Somali community to rally for change. During a round table discussion at the Brian Coyle Center, Abdirahim Ahmed, Dayib's uncle, told the president of the company that manages the property, Sherman Associates, something has to change.
"I don't think my brother and his wife will recover from this. They really torture themselves," Ahmed said. "We cannot argue about what happened. What happened is what happened? How can we protect the kids that stay in here? Something gotta be done. Something gotta be done."
As Ahmed made his plea, the president of the company that manages the property, George Sherman, listened and responded. Ahmed told the group the family doesn't blame anyone. They want measures in place to prevent another child or family from suffering. People who live in the community suggested an extra lock or latch to secure the door leading to the balconies.
Sherman told the group about 50 percent the units at the complex have balconies. Sherman said there were no maintenance request or reports of damage at the unit where the child fell from the balcony.
"The balcony doors and screens were all replaced about two years ago and new locks were installed," Sherman said. "The railings were not replaced. They were painted and repaired."
Turns out, the State of Minnesota sets the building codes. The minimum height for balconies is 42 inches and maximum spacing depends on when the building was constructed. For those built prior to 1983, like Riverside Plaza, the maximum spacing is 9 inches.
Matt Lindstrom, a spokesperson with the Minneapolis Department of Code Enforcement said "the railings on the Riverside Plaza balconies are 47 inches high and spaced 5 ½ inches apart so at the time they were built, they exceeded the state building code."
Granted, the Riverside Plaza balconies exceeded the building regulations at the time they were built. Like construction of any new building, builders are required to follow the building code at that time. If the code changes, builders are not required to remodel their structures to meet current code. Sherman said the company spent about $65 million in renovations. If he were to make any additional changes, that would include reducing the spacing on the railings to four inches.
"Twenty five percent of the units have requested a block to prevent the door from being opened by children," Sherman said. "We have had a request for a number in the last couple of days. (We are) looking at more permanent locks that the fire department approves."
Sherman says some units have cardboard block that prevents a child from sliding the door open. These are provided free of charge to residents.
Sherman said this is the first time he recalls a child slipping through the open space of the railing. In the past, a child fell of a balcony while playing. Sherman said this is the first time he recalls a child slipping through the open space of the railing. He pointed out, the circumstances surrounding the case are still unclear and called the incident an "accident."
Many questions remain as to how Dayib fell.
Doctors say it is too early to tell if the child will have long term complications. For now, he is heavily sedated. Coupled with his broken arms, bruised lungs and other fractures he suffered a concussion. Initially doctors thought his skull was fractured but that was ruled out late Tuesday afternoon.
"Anyway you look at this, it's a miracle," Slusher said.