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Trini falls to death at NYU

By MIRANDA LA ROSE Tuesday, January 28 2014

click on pic to zoom in
GRIEF: David Lee-Hai, grieving father of Trini-born NYU student Titan Lee-Hai....
GRIEF: David Lee-Hai, grieving father of Trini-born NYU student Titan Lee-Hai....

A TRINIDAD family is in mourning following news that their loved one, Titan Lee-Hai who left home only last week to take up studies at New York University (NYU), fell to his death from the roof of a dorm at the university.

Lee-Hai, 19, a first-year student at NYU in Manhattan died after falling off the roof, 15 storeys high, at one of the university’s dorms early yesterday morning. He died after a night of partying with a friend and was due to start classes yesterday.

Lee-Hai’s distraught father David Lee-Hai, owner of David’s Filmvue in Port-of-Spain, spoke with Newsday yesterday at his Stone Street, Port-of-Spain home saying that officials at Bellevue Hospital, where an autopsy is expected to be done, told him they are not sure if Lee-Hai committed suicide or fell from the roof of the 15 storey-Third North Residence Hall at about 3.20 am yesterday, because of intoxication. Today’s autopsy, would hopefully provide grieving relatives with answers, Lee-Hai said.

The former St Mary’s College student who was pursuing Liberal Studies, left Trinidad on January 23 to return to classes yesterday for the second semester. Lee-Hai said he learnt of the death of his only child when his wife answered the telephone early yesterday morning. Her cries woke him up.

“I didn’t believe it was my son they were saying was dead. I called my brother who lives in Brooklyn and my brother-in-law to find out from the Bellevue Hospital whether it was indeed him,” Lee-Hai said.

The Dean of the Liberal Studies Faculty and the president of the student body, Lee-Hai said, later called to confirm Lee-Hai’s death and to express condolences. Asked whether Lee-Hai had any problems, David said not that he knew off. He was in good spirits when he left Trinidad, Lee-Hai said. His son’s last request, the weeping man said, was for two pairs of soft shoes which were posted from Trinidad last Friday.

“I don’t know what took place in the three-and-a-half days between his departure from home in Trinidad. He was here for the whole month during the Christmas holidays,” Lee-Hai said. David and his wife will travel to New York today. “We will go up there to see what happened. I hope to bring my son’s remains to Trinidad. This is where he born and where he has his family and friends,” Lee-Hai said.

Lee-Hai’s close friends from St Mary’s College schooldays, Chad Adams and Chad Archie were yesterday dazed at the news. Archie spoke highly of Lee-Hai’s talent as a budding rapper. He said that he (Archie) shot and produced Lee-Hai’s last music video titled, The life of Pi which was shot in Port-of-Spain. Adams is also featured in the rap video alongside Lee-Hai.

“I spoke with him the day before yesterday (Saturday),” Adams said. The UWI student added, “we spent almost everyday after school here in his studio.” He said Lee-Hai was “musically gifted” and composed his own songs, did his own recordings and was aspiring to become a professional rapper. “He would make videos, blogs...you name it, Titan did it. He was a child print protegee in a sense. With the computer and editing, he was on a next level,” Adams said.

The online New York Post quoted NY police as saying that Lee-Hai was stark naked when he met his death after a night of partying. The Post quoted Shazim Khurshid, 19, a NYU freshman, who would have been the last person to see Lee-Hai alive. “I was in the elevator and he just walked in and punched me in the face and then he asked me where he was. He was naked when he walked in.

So, it was pretty obvious he was not in his senses. He had no sense of where he was or what time it was. He looked like he was on drugs...a lot of drugs,” Khurshid said in the Post report. Khurshid, who lived on the second floor, said that Lee Hai rode to the top floor and opened a door to the roof, triggering an alarm that forced students to evacuate before he either fell or jumped. He was rushed to Bellevue Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Lee Hai, he said urinated on the floor before getting into the elevator. “It was pretty obvious he was not in his senses.”

New York police initially said the death was being treated as a suicide, but later said he may have been on drugs and that it was uncertain if he fell or jumped. Police were reportedly looking for the unidentified friend who Lee-Hai was partying with shortly before his death.

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