Trapped in Fort Lamson
On April 1, 2016, David Wright (junior, Explore Andrews) was found in a storage room on the third floor of the undergraduate women’s dormitory, Lamson Hall, after being unable to find his way out of the building during an Open House event that was held during the last week of February.
“I was stuck in what seemed to be an impossible maze for thirty days. It was a most traumatizing experience, and I would not wish it on anyone,” Wright said.
Being a transfer student who attended a university in his hometown of Imalone, Wisc., Wright spoke about his excitement in being at a new school and viewing the different dormitories on campus.
“I haven’t made any friends yet, so I thought that Open House would be a perfect opportunity for me to meet new people. Little did I know that entering those black metal doors would change my life forever,” Wright said.
When the RA announced that it was time for visitors to head back to their respective dorms, most of the students followed the crowd and exited through the back lobby; Wright, however, ended up losing his way.
“When I finished touring the different floors, I didn’t want to go back to my room to study. So, I decided to stay in one of the lobbies and watch funny vine compilations until it was time to leave. After waking up in complete darkness from an unexpected nap, I realized that Open House had ended over four hours earlier.”
After hitting himself on the head for being so careless, Wright choose to exit the same way he came in, but it wasn’t as simple as he thought.
“Everything looked the same! The halls, the doors, the bathrooms, everything! I went back towards what seemed to be the way I had come through but ended up on a completely different wing,” Wright said.
After hours of pushing through various doors and hallways, Wright decided to create a strategy to find a way to escape and return back to Meier Hall.
“There I was with a dead phone, struggling to find the exit. I found a vacant room filled with towels and toilet paper and decided to make it my temporary living space while developing a plan to get out,” Wright said.
Wright also spoke about his thought process in how he believed he would be free from the walls of Lamson.
“Luckily, I watched all four seasons of ‘Prison Break’ over the summer, so I decided to channel my inner Michael Scofield and began to carve into the walls a perspective map of Lamson.”
On the map, Wright began to draw what he believed to be the hallway he was trapped in. He also kept track of the different directions in the building by listening to the RA announce dorm worships in the South East and Middle East lobbies.
“South east, middle east, east east!” Wright began to rock back and forth. “I can’t speak those words without shivering,” Wright said. “Even hearing people speak about going to South Bend almost sends me over the edge.”
By the end of week two, Wright may not have figured a way out, but he had managed to sustain himself with his surroundings.
“After much trial and error, I discovered the vending machine room, where I purchased water bottles for bathing and also different snacks to keep me alive for the next day,” Wright said.
By the third week, Wright’s frustration took over, and he decided that by the following Monday he would find his way out once and for all.
“I woke up at what I believe to be early in the morning and decided to ditch my original plan and completely follow my instincts. After about three hours I heard what seemed to be birds chirping. I ran for my life toward the sound and before my eyes I saw the greatest sight, grass. I started to shout and jump around until I realized there was no pathway to the campus,” Wright said.
Sadly, Wright had found his way into one of Lamson’s inner courtyards, with nowhere to go but back inside the dorm.
“After that incident I completely shut down and decided to accept my fate of being trapped in what seemed to be a nightmare,” Wright said. “Every night I would sit and dream of being free, of smelling the beautiful scent of the Dairy farm.”
The following week, housekeeping supervisor Griselda Guzman heard a strange noise while vacuuming one of the hallways. As Guzman walked closer to the room, she began to hear what seemed to be snoring from one of the storage closets. When Guzman opened the door, she couldn’t believe what she saw.
“I just remember screaming, seeing this boy laying in a bed of towels and toilet paper. When I yelled to wake him up, he was so shocked that he looked as if he saw a ghost,” Guzman said.
After being led out of the dorm, Wright knelt down and thanked God for bringing him out of Lamson Hall.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was free. All I wanted to do was eat a breakfast burrito and charge my phone,” Wright said.
Lamson resident Denae Keizs (freshman, Explore Andrews) spoke about her reaction to finding out that a male had been living in Lamson for an entire month.
“I feel terrible for the guy. I mean, living in Lamson is not for the weak. I’m glad he was finally rescued,” Keizs said.
Although he has over two weeks of missed tests and assignments to complete, Wright seemed at peace with being back in Meier Hall.
When asked why he didn’t just ask someone for directions out of the dorm, Wright jokingly said, “I guess what they say about men and directions is true.”