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Toddler survives 11-story fall from Minneapolis apartment balcony

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A 15-month-old boy survived an 11-story fall from his family's Minneapolis apartment balcony thanks to his young age and a lucky landing spot.

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"If you and I fell that far, we would be dead," Dr. Tina Slusher said from the pediatric intensive care unit at Hennepin County Medical Center. "He's a baby and ... he happened to land on a very small patch of mulchy area. ... He's a kid. So they tend to be more flexible and pliable than you and I would be. Having said that, it's a real gift from God that he made it because this is a huge fall."

Doctors, family and community members are dubbing Musa Dayib "the miracle baby," but the toddler, who is in critical but stable condition, still must recover from some very severe injuries, including fractures and a concussion.

The boy fell from the family's balcony from the Cedar-Riverside apartment towers about 8 p.m. Sunday. An anxious crowd of Somali-Americans who live in the area quickly gathered as emergency workers treated him and an ambulance took him to the hospital, said local community activist Abdirizak Bihi, who spent part of Monday at the hospital with the family. "When people found out he survived, no one could believe it," Bihi said.

Slusher told the family their child will survive, but the parents remain in shock, Bihi said.

"I'm more concerned about his dad and his mother," he said. "They're devastated. They can't even speak."

In a statement released by hospital officials, the parents said they were thankful for the "continued prayers for Musa and his family at this time."

Bihi said the child's mother was running errands nearby while his father watched him and his 3-year-old sister. The father had gone into another room to get something when his daughter ran to him, calling, "'Daddy. The baby fell,'" Bihi said Monday.

"It took place in less than a minute," Bihi said. "The grandmother told me that the daughter opened the balcony door."

Bihi said he and his daughters, 8 and 12, were out for a walk Sunday night when they saw the commotion outside the building and learned about the toddler's horrific fall.

"This is such a tragedy," he said. "The parents are blaming themselves."

Bihi said friends, neighbors and even strangers are trying to help the mother and father not to focus on the fall but the miraculous survival of their son, he said. This also is a moment for the community to come together to keep this from happening again, Bihi said.

Bihi said a community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, suggesting, "maybe we need to change the railings or restrict access to the balconies."

Chris Sherman, whose family has owned and managed the 1,303-unit Riverside Plaza apartments since 1988, said the railings are 47 inches high and spaced 5 1/2 to 6 inches apart. He said the design passed inspection when the building underwent a $65 million renovation in 2011-2012.

He said the railings were examined after Sunday's fall and we "received no word that anything is wrong nor do we know whether the railings were the issue because he doesn't know yet how the child fell 11 stories. It's very unfortunate and we wish him a speedy recovery."

While the community gathers, doctors are tending to Musa's recovery from his injuries, including a brain injury, which poses the least immediate concern, Slusher said. The boy also suffered rib fractures with bruising to his lungs as well as fractures in both arms and his backbone, she said. But the boy didn't suffer a spinal cord injury, she said.

Although it's too early to say whether the toddler will suffer any long-term problems from the fall, Slusher said the resiliency of his youth likely will have him out of the hospital in weeks or months, depending on the rehabilitation services he may need.

"I expect him to survive," Slusher said. "It's amazing."

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