A Pipestone, Minnesota man is dead after falling down the smokestack of a Chicago high-rise.
It happened early Thursday morning at a hotel along the iconic Magnificent Mile. Nick Wieme, 23, went to the top of the hotel with his girlfriend to take photos around 1:00 a.m. Police say he climbed the smokestack for a better shot of the Chicago skyline and fell in.
He fell about 22 feet into the stack. For a time, he was able to talk with his girlfriend on his cell phone, despite his injuries. By the time crews reached him almost five hours later, he had died.
Wieme was a 2007 graduate of Pipestone Area High School with an English degree from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.
It was a very sad day for those in the community of Pipestone as family, friends and the school district mourn his death.
"His dad and mom are very close friends of ours. Our best friends, his dad works with me in tennis, for him and I to catch this morning, it was a shock to all of us," Ed Gustafson said.
Gustafson says if there's anyone who was involved in just about everything, it was Nick.
"Nick was a person who always made you laugh. Was a kid that did everything full-out all the time. Whatever he was into, he got himself really involved in it. Worked hard at it," Ed Gustafson said.
Wieme was in Chicago fulfilling his life-long dream of stand-up comedy, after years and experience with liberal arts in both high school and college. As his family says, in a statement to KSFY News, 'Nick had a heart of gold... and always had a way of, unintentionally, stealing the show'.
"His liberal arts were big. The one-acts, all the plays. He was a very good performer, put himself in everything and did well," Gustafson said. "It's a sad day for all of us."
Read a full statement to KSFY News from the Wieme family, below:
Nick was born and raised in Pipestone, MN where he graduated in 2007. He then attended and graduated Minnesota State University in Moorhead, MN, graduating with a major in English in 2011.
During college, Nick began taking up the hobby of stand-up comedy. Nick experienced a good deal of success in this endeavor and followed it to where it led him: Chicago. Upon arriving to Chicago his interest switched from comedy to improv. In this, he found even more success, performing at a number of improv establishments on a regular basis. Those that watched him perform, often attested that Nick had a way of unintentionally "stealing the show".
Nick had a heart of gold, which is ironic, because everything he touched turned to gold. Every endeavor he tried, he excelled at. He was always looking out for others... ALWAYS.
Nick's amazing talents were only topped by his fierce love and loyalty to his family and friends. Nick was truly a family man, a phenomenal friend (as literally hundreds would attest to), and would do anything to help anyone. When it came to people, Nick's as good as they come. Nick was simply amazing, always looking out very EVERYONE besides himself. People gravitated to him. Everyone loved Nick, and Nick loved everyone. The word "special" doesn't do my brother justice.
Nick leaves behind two loving parents, two dedicated brothers, a sister-in-law, and a niece he loved dearly... and grandparents, along with countless aunts, uncles, and cousins.