Paralyzed student trapped in U-M dorm during fire drill

Paralyzed student trapped in U-M dorm during fire drill

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Drew Clayborn, 19, at his seventh-floor dorm room Drew Clayborn, 19, at his seventh-floor dorm room
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WJBK) -

19-year-old Drew Clayborn is now a sophomore at the University of Michigan after becoming paralyzed while practicing a backflip for a high school musical four years ago. He and his family haven't let his wheelchair get in the way of anything - but Sunday night wasn't within their control.

Drew usually goes home for the weekends but this past weekend he stayed in his seventh floor dorm for the first time. Sunday night, the fire alarm went off.

"It was a little nerve wracking just because we weren't sure if we were going to have to go tumbling down some stairs, or what to expect. It was a little scary," Drew tells Fox 2's Amy Lange.

For the first time, Drew felt trapped.

His roommates were there with him but he and his chair weigh 600 pounds.

Drew's RA came and called public safety. Public safety came but still no rescue - and no word on whether there was, in fact, a fire for about 20 minutes.

"Whatever protocol they had it ... came up short last night and that they really need to address it and make sure. There's no more of a helpless feeling than being in a situation where you can't do anything," Drew's father, Ledon Clayborn, says.

VIDEO: Click on the video player above to hear more from Drew and his dad in Fox 2's Amy Lange's report


The fire turned out to be a false alarm; it was a hot water pipe that burst in the basement.

A spokesperson with the University of Michigan tells Fox 2 that policies and procedures are in place and were followed.

Drew might not have known, but more than one person had contacted dispatch to tell them about Drew. Had the situation been a real emergency, firefighters would have evacuated him.

It's not clear why there was such confusion but it's a good reminder for every family to always know your escape plan.

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