Nicholas Wieme, a photographer trying to take pictures on top of the InterContinental Hotel in Chicago, died early Thursday morning after falling into a smokestack (video below).
Fire crews cut a hole in the chimney, 42 stories above Michigan Avenue, to free Wieme and take him to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died, reports CBS Chicago.
Michael Fox, the Chicago Fire Department’s chief of special operations, told CBS Chicago: “It took four hours and the coordination of more than 100 firefighters and paramedics to reach him.”
“We had to send members from the top down on ropes to assess his condition. The whole time, we’re monitoring the situation for toxic gases.”
Wieme and his girlfriend had dinner at Michael Jordan’s Steak House next door to the hotel, then decided to go to the top of the hotel to check out the smokestack.
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When he got to the top of the chimney, Wieme thought he had stepped on a ledge, but fell 22 feet into the hot smokestack before striking an angle in the structure and becoming stuck.
Fox added: “We had to cut a hole in the duct work and then slide him down the duct work. It turned very precarious, because two foot after where we made the hole was a drop that would have went 42 floors to the basement, so it took us a little time to cut the hole in the right spot, and shore it up, so when we brought him out he would not fall into the basement.”
Wieme called and sent text messages to his girlfriend throughout the ordeal.
He was also talking to firefighters during the rescue, but lost consciousness before being rescued.