An amateur photographer died after he fell into a chimney Thursday morning at a high-end Michigan Avenue hotel, authorities said.
The 23-year-old man was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced at 5:15 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, which identified the victim Thursday as Nicholas Wieme of the 4800 block of North Albany.
Fire crews cut a hole in the smoke stack about 42 stories above Michigan Avenue before freeing Wieme and taking him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in "severely critical condition," Fire Department Chief of Special Operations Michael Fox said. He lost consciousness while stuck inside the chimney.
A person who was with the man when he fell into the chimney called 911 about 1:09 a.m. to report the incident, according to Fox.
Emergency crews then found a person had fallen into a smoke stack while attempting to take photos on the roof of the hotel, Fire Media Affairs said. The person was in an area above a 42nd-floor balcony that is closed off from the general public.
Raymond Vermolen, general manager at the InterContinental Hotel at at 505 N. Michigan Ave., also released a statement Thursday:
"The InterContinental Magnificent Mile holds the safety, comfort and well-being of our guests and employees as our top priority and concern," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the guest at this difficult time. The hotel staff will continue to cooperate fully with authorities in their investigation. All further questions should be directed to the Chicago Police Department."
North Michigan Avenue was closed between Illinois Street and Grand Avenue while fire crews attempted a confined space rescue, according to Fire Media Affairs. About 100 CFD personnel were on scene.
The victim apparently climbed on top of the InterContinental's iconic dome and somehow got onto a chimney that he fell into, Fire Media Affairs said. He fell 22 feet into the chimney before striking an angle in the structure, authorities said. The chimney drops off 42 floors after the angle.
The fire department cut a hole in the chimney below the man and inserted wooden beams to keep him from falling, authorities said.
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