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sunland mental hospital

Interview with Keith Murdock, The Man Who Fell at Sunland Hospital

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On the morning of July 28, 1997, 23-year-old Keith Murdock fell three stories down an elevator shaft while playing hide-and-go-seek with a few friends inside the abandoned Sunland Hospital in Orlando. His friends left him behind and made an anonymous 911 call to report the fall. Authorities were unable to locate Murdock until the friends called back two hours later and then led rescuers to him. Keith suffered from a fractured skull and severe spinal injuries, and after undergoing surgery he was in critical but stable condition.

This accident was a catalyst to the building’s demise and was what pushed nearby residents into lobbying to have the abandoned facility demolished.

After posting this location on Abandoned Florida, it wasn’t until a few years later when Keith left a comment on the page. After a quick back and forth, he agreed to answer a few questions about his experience.

“I don’t remember falling down the shaft but apparently all things indicate falling backwards”

Me: To start, you and who else decided to go to Sunland? and why?

Keith: It was me and four others if I remember correctly(Michelle-my then girlfriend,Tanya, Gary and Danny). I was at Michelles’ house, I just got off of work, I was having some beers just chillin out really and some of her teen friends came over(she was 18 herself) and they all wanted to go to the Sunland building because it was supposed to be haunted.. I didn’t want to go I just wanted to chill but she wanted to so I just went with and took my 12pk that I had with me…

I was basically drunk by the time we got there lol I remember walking around inside and it was just what you would expect from somewhere vacant and abandoned.. maybe a little creepier..(creepier cause it was 3 in the morning probably)

I remember hiding or quietly lagging behind so I could scare them… I had liquid courage u know,.. lol At first I wanted to scare them but cause I was drunk so I lost myself in there and the last thing I remember really was trying to call out ghosts or trying to stir something up in the dark or something… I don’t remember falling down the shaft but apparently all things indicate falling backwards like I backed in… (scar under my chin and on the front of left shin, plus landing on my back..)

I wish I could remember that moment because I was never the type to not know my footing and be that “sloppy drunk” when I was drinking, and as confident as I was about my personal space I just can’t imagine myself falling back like that, not to mention I was being overly aggressive pushing onward with anticipation not retreating backwards “into the dark” or walking backwards without knowing my footing.. so I pretty much just have to wonder about it whenever it comes up..

I have tried many times over the years to recount something… sometimes I feel like I am getting somewhere but I never really recall anything new about that night, the building or about that actual moment when I “fell”.

Me: Do you remember anything after the fall? Like being at the hospital for example?

Keith: hold on man I just had a revelation about something… I have to get back to u k

“I remember somehow knowing that it was a little girl and that something was very wrong with her”

He responded back 6 hours later…

Keith: sorry bout that…

I was typing earlier about what I remember after the fall and in doing so I happened to think of something that made me have to break away and process it and I have been thinking about it all day since..

I really don’t know where to begin… and its a lot to type…

I will say this for now tho, in 18 years I have been telling people or recalling the whole thing to the best of my ability.. but never until thinking about it earlier today while typing, did I ever put together the sunland hospital and its history with something in particular that I experienced or remember from my coma that I never told anybody..

My brain is wracked, I would really like some more time to reflect on things before trying to go on right now, If u don’t mind I would rather pick this up another time..

Me: No problem, take your time!

Two days later, I received a response from Keith…

Keith: hey man sorry about that..

Its just that I happened to think about something that really pulled me away…

To continue to try to answer your question about afterwards in the hospital.. I was in a coma for the first two months… My family was told that I had little to no brain activity and that my chances of awakening were slim and if I did I would remain in a vegetative state… It amazed me when I was told that because my coma was like a very long dream state and there were a lot of different situations that I “dreamt ” and they were all like my reality as far as I knew… One common thing about all my dreams was a strange acknowledgement that I couldn’t move but at the same time I had no awareness of why… I was always trying to escape or find my way home but I just could never leave without knowing why.. There were a lot of things that I could not even begin to explain that I remember from my coma… Over the years since the fall I have written most of them off to the morphine that they were giving me.. but there are some things that have always stood alone and have made me really wonder whenever thinking about it and each of them had a very real or strange feeling to them..

The first thing I remember “experiencing” was laying on the floor in a square room and I couldn’t get up.. the walls were like old and stone like and I could swear I remember not being able to look up.. I don’t mean it was just all black or white or anything but like I just couldn’t acknowledge anything above me yet I was clearly aware about the walls around me..

The second thing I will never forget, which I have always believed was right after the strange feeling of being on the floor of the square room, was that I was laying in the bottom bunk of a bunk bed and there was one on the right side of me and on my left. I remember a very strong feeling or sense like there was a presence or presences all around me but not in my view…like down on the sides of the bed and on the top bunk and even on the tops of the other bunks and I remember feeling very scared and having that feeling of “playing dead”.

Those are the two major things that have always stood out to me, however there is a third thing which up until the other day when I was typing my response to you, I had always written off to being under the influence of the morphine while I was in the hospital… I have a memory of laying in a hospital bed in some type of hallway where there was like a nurses station or counter in front of me and suddenly being aware of a child laying with me kind of tucked into my side. I remember somehow knowing that it was a little girl and that something was very wrong with her and I remember a very uneasy feeling about it. But again I always had this overwhelming sense that I couldn’t move and I just had to lay there…

and I remember that feeling changing to a kind of kinship feeling between us…

like we both were in the same boat or something…

I always thought about this memory of a child laying with me as just another result of the morphine…

but while typing I happened to remember that the hospital was originally for children…

and I never put that together as a possible reason of why that happened in my coma…

thats why I was so beside myself when I was typing to u the other day.. I had not thought of that in all the 18 years since my fall…

Forgive me If I went on and on… but from time to time when I am asked about this I really take myself back and for a little time I am kind of committed to ponder about things again…


David Bulit is a photographer, author, and historian from Miami, Florida. He has published a number of books on abandoned and forgotten locales throughout the United States and continues to advocate for preserving these historic landmarks. His work has been featured throughout the world in news outlets such as the Miami New Times, the Florida Times-Union, the Orlando Sentinel, NPR, Yahoo News, MSN, the Daily Mail, UK Sun, and many others. You can find more of his work at davidbulit.com as well as amazon.com/author/davidbulit.

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