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Man dies after falling into Michigan Avenue hotel smokestack

Thursday, December 13, 2012
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Friends of a man who moved to Chicago to follow his dream can't believe he's gone. Nicholas Wieme died after falling down the smokestack of a hotel on Michigan Aveune.

Friends describe Wieme as a very talented imrov actor, comedian, storyteller and film maker, and apparently it was his desire to take a picture that led him 470 feet up to the very top of the Intercontinental Hotel, a move that shocked his friends in the improv community.

Sadness turned to smiles as Nick Wieme's friends and members of his improv team remembered the 23-year-old's talent and huge personality.

The Minnesota native moved to Chicago a couple years ago and spent much of his time at the comedy club iO Chicago.

"He moved here specifically because he liked doing improv, the things that were happening in Chicago comedy-wise," said friend Case Blackwell.

"Nick made everyone feel like part of his family and so we lost part of ours today," said Wieme's iO coach Matt Higbee.

Wieme died after falling 22 feet down a smoke stack at the Intercontinental Chicago. After eating dinner at the hotel's Michael Jordan Restaurant earlier in the evening with his girlfriend, Wieme decided to capture the view of the city on his camera, so he managed to get to a restricted area on the roof and climbed up the ladder of the smoke stack.

Wieme lost his balance, and more than 100 firefighters were called to conduct a very delicate rescue.

"We found the best way to get him out about two floors below and out was cut the duct work for chimney made of steel," said Chicago Fire Department Chief Michael Fox.

Weime died at the hospital.

His friends are baffled at why the aspiring comic would take such a risk.

"I wouldn't say he was someone who went out of his way for danger, but he was a story-teller, vain, so he could tell it later," said friend Ryan Livingston.

Telling stories about Weime's talent rather than how he died is how his friends are remembering him at iO Chicago.

"He taught me how to live life, taught me how to enjoy it," said Weime's former roommate Damian White.

Wieme was part of the improv group Villain at iO Chicago. They are scheduled to perform Monday night at 10:30. The team said they are not sure if the show will go on, although some of the members said they definitely want to perform Monday.

There are still questions about how Wieme was able to bypass security to get up on the roof of the Intercontinental Hotel.

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