NEW YORK — A 17-year-old girl whose father is the U.S. ambassador to Thailand slipped off her shoes and stepped out onto the ledge of a Manhattan high-rise apartment with a camera before plummeting more than 20 stories to her death, police said.
Nicole John fell about 4:15 a.m., apparently from the top floor of the 25-story Herald Towers, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. She was found on a third-floor ledge with severe trauma to her body after people across the street saw her fall.
Her death was believed to be an accident. John was believed to have been drinking, and 25-year-old Ilan Nassimi, who rents the apartment, was arrested later Friday on charges of unlawful dealing with a minor, police said. No attorney information was available for Nassimi.
John was an incoming freshman at the Parsons The New School for Design and lived in Manhattan’s East Village. She and others had been out earlier at a Manhattan club, leaving around 2 a.m. go to the apartment on West 34th Street near the Empire State Building, Kelly said.
Police believe the apartment may have been cleaned up by the time investigators arrived, but they think about a dozen people where there and had been drinking.
John had a fake ID from Brazil that gave her age as 23 or 24. The medical examiner was scheduled to perform an autopsy and toxicology tests Saturday.
The girl’s father, Eric John, was appointed U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand in 2007. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Kristin Kneedler, said they were just getting details, and had no immediate comment.
Parsons said in a statement that the university’s management team was working to provide comfort and support to those affected.
“Losing a member of the community is extremely difficult for students, faculty and staff just as we begin a new semester,” the school said in a statement.
The camera was found with her body, but it wasn’t clear whether she stepped out onto the ledge to take a photo. The building manager was called by someone in the apartment who found the body, police said, but witnesses on the street also called 911.