Father wants more security at Universal hotel after man kills self: ‘They have the money to do whats right
- Nov 11, 2019
Courtesy: David Harris | News Source: orlandosentinel.com
At 27, Matthew Bahna had just lost his job and he was upset about the direction his life had taken.
After turning in his uniform at Cold Stone Creamery in Celebration on Aug. 11, he took a Lyft to Universal’s Adventura Hotel and went up to the 17th floor rooftop bar at about 10 p.m. He consumed six drinks over more than two hours at the bar, which has a panoramic view and is surrounded by an 8-foot glass wall.
Just after 12:30 a.m., Bahna used a couch to scale the glass. After three attempts, he was able to pull himself over the glass and jumped to his death, according to a report from an Orlando police detective who reviewed security camera footage of the incident.
Now his father, Alfred Bahna, wants to know why his 5-foot-6 son was able to climb over the barrier and why no employees at the bar intervened to prevent his suicide. He hopes that speaking out about what happened will prompt the hotel to make security enhancements and prevent another tragedy.
“Going through the pain we’re going through — we just didn’t want to see another family going through that,” he said. “I just want to warn people that this bar is very dangerous.”
A spokesman for Universal declined comment.
Out of nowhere
Those who knew Matthew Bahna, known as Waffles because of his affinity for the food, said they were shocked by his suicide.
“He’s the kind of person you could never be upset around unless you really hated fun,” said his roommate Max Eiss, 26. “He really had a way of lifting everyone’s spirits. He was such a unique and lovable individual who made everyone laugh.”
Bahna never told anyone about losing his job. A few days after his death, his father found a note in his glove box saying life was hard and he was feeling depressed.
“He was very outgoing, but not with his problems,” his father said.
Said Eiss: “He kept a smile on his face because he didn’t want to hurt or make us worried.”
Bar 17 Bistro at Aventura Hotel, which opened last year, has gray couches along the windows, pub tables and a long wooden bar. You get a bird’s eye view of Universal Studios, including Volcano Bay water park and can also see the downtown Orlando skyline off into the distance. In August, 27-year-old Matthew Bahna died by suicide after scaling the glass wall and jumping to his death. (David Harris/Orlando Sentinel) (David Harris)
Matthew Bahna was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and moved to Central Florida as a child, where he attended Celebration High School.
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He had an ear for music and taught himself how to play the guitar, his father said. He was in a few bands over the years and gave music lessons, but nothing really took off to make it a full-time career.
“He just had a natural talent to it,” Alfred Bahna said. “Anything with strings he could just play. Music became a large part of his life.”
He would often play for his roommates.
“The boy was just incredibly gifted,” Eiss said.
Dad: Safeguards needed
Orlando police detectives went to the Bahnas’ home in Kissimmee to inform them of their son’s death the night before. Kerry Anne Bahna, who had just returned from walking the dog, called her husband at work to deliver the news.
“It was literally every parent’s nightmare,” Alfred Bahna said. “It’s the phone call you always worry about getting. It’s the reason you keep your phone on and always ask where he’s going.”
He said he and his son bonded over Marvel and Star Wars movies and the younger Bahna would always share with his father the latest music he was listening to on YouTube.
Matthew Bahna also had a YouTube channel called “How Two” where he and his roommate in a series of videos explained a subject in two-and-a-half minutes.
“And in two of those minutes it is our goal to quickly and efficiently explain step-by-step how to achieve whatever the goal of the video is, hence the name ‘How Two’ ... Our videos will discuss a wide variety of subjects ... [such as] how to move a dead body decomposing in your closet without alerting your roommate," he joked.
Life without his son has been hard, Alfred Bahna said. He’s been coping with the loss by putting up tribute videos on YouTube, including one of with his son playing an acoustic version of the Beatles song “Yesterday.”
“[Your children] are what you live for,” he said. “To not have that in your life is the worst nightmare anyone can possible face.”
Bar 17 Bistro at Aventura Hotel, which opened last year, has gray couches along the windows, pub tables and a long wooden bar. You get a bird’s eye view of Universal Studios, including Volcano Bay water park and can also see the downtown Orlando skyline off into the distance.
Alfred Bahna said he’s not sure why his son decided to go to the bar or if he went there knowing he was going to kill himself. About a month after his son’s death, he and his wife went to the bar to see it. They didn’t stay long, because his wife became upset, but he said he was taken aback at the lack of safeguards.
“We want Universal to put up safeguards, whether it be a net, more security, spikes on top of the wall, whatever it is,” he said. “They have plenty of money to do it right.”
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Help is available
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
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