CHICAGO - A Minnesota man has died after falling 22 feet down a chimney at the top of the Intercontinental Hotel on Chicago's Michigan Avenue early Wednesday morning.
The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office confirms that 23-year-old Nicholas Wieme, formerly of Pipestone, was pronounced dead from injuries sustained in the fall.
Wieme graduated with a film degree from Minnesota State University at Moorhead. Department Chairperson Kyja K. Nelson describes him as exuberant, enthusiastic and a pleasure to have in class. She remembers Wieme as having his hands in everything, from acting to directing and editing.
Firefighters said Wieme went onto the hotel roof to take photos. He apparently climbed a ladder along a smokestack to the top and fell into the chimney around 1 a.m.
Wieme then became wedged in an elbow of the shaft, very close to the drop to the basement.
"We had to cut a hole in the duct work and then slide him down the duct work," said Chief Michael Fox, chief of special operations for the Chicago Fire Department. "It turned very precarious because two feet after we made the hole was a drop that would have went 42 floors to the basement."
Thirty firefighter companies were called and more than 100 firefighters assisted in the rescue.
Firefighters said Wieme was able to communicate with them for a short time before he lost consciousness. Firefighters eventually rescued him and rushed him in critical condition to Northwestern Hospital, where Wieme was pronounced dead.
Nick Wieme's Facebook account says he was dining at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse at the Intercontinental Hotel Wednesday night, and a statement from the hotel calls Wieme "a guest."
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