The Danger of Rooftopping Photography: Man Dies After Falling Into a Chimney

Less than a week removed from the train photographer tragedy in Sacramento, California, another sad story has made its way across our desks. A 23-year-old man named Nicholas Wieme died in the pursuit of a “rooftopping” photograph yesterday after he fell into a building’s smokestack in Chicago.

After eating dinner with his girlfriend in a restaurant at the InterContinental Hotel, the couple decided to climb to the top of the 42-story building, check out the smokestack, and shoot some photos from the high vantage point.

When Wieme reached the top of the smokestack he lost his footing and fell in, plummeting 22-feet down the scorching chimney before getting stuck in a small bend two stories below the roof.

The fall itself didn’t kill Wieme, who was able to send a text to his girlfriend asking for help; however, it took Chicago firefighters 4 hours to reach and safely extract him from the smokestack. And although he was rushed to a local hospital, he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Rooftopping is becoming increasingly popular among thrill-seeking photographers who live in urban environments, and a common mindset seems to be that the more restricted the roof the better. Word Spy defines “rooftopping” as “Taking photographs from the roof of a building, particularly one accessed illegally.”

In this case, the hotel rooftop was indeed restricted to the general public but the duo were able to access the roof through an unbolted door.

(via CBS News)

Image credit: Intercontinental Chicago by edenpictures

  • Michael Spotts

    Before anyone brings up the Darwin awards, I’ll confess I’ve taken my share of risks making photos. He probably just slipped. What a sad turn for his family at Christmas.

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    I’ve done this sort of thing before, I did my best to remain safe but for sure there were times that I wasn’t. I almost fell off of a waterfall once. It was a wake up call.

    That said we’re in a world with rapidly shrinking frontiers, and those few frontiers that remain, such as the oceans and outer space are extremely expensive to access. Those of us who have an adventurous explorer’s spirit need to go somewhere, to do something. We can’t help ourselves. Its been like that for thousands of years.

    We’re about to hit 7-billion people on this planet. Of those 7-billion people a few will do risky things, even fewer will be unlucky and have things like this happen to them. It doesn’t mean society is falling apart, it just means that statistically a few folks aren’t going to make it.

    My condolences to the friends and family of this young man.

  • DamianMonsivais

    Well he was unlucky in this case.

  • Bryan Folstad

    Saw Wieme a few times at School here at MSUM. He was well known amongst the film students here in Fargo/Moorhead. He was a funny guy, they played one of his short films at our screening today. He was known for “getting the shot” when he wanted one! You will be missed!

  • Eziz

    This doesn’t really qualify for Darwin awards. Those who claim are internet trolls who have a need to assure themselves of their intellectual superiority by pointing at other people’s mistakes.

  • kendon

    care to enlighten us why it shouldn’t qualify? he removed his genes from the human genepool by the stupidity of his actions, so this very well qualifies. you could argue that it wouldn’t be very sensitive to bring it up, but that is a very different topic.

  • Jonathan Maniago

    I think a major problem here is that everybody shows the risks being taken in order to take unusual photographs — but not the precautions. People need to be reminded that shooting photos is a hell of a lot less convenient if you’ve got broken bones or a dead body.

  • madmax

    I probably deserve to be dead more than this good fellow. I got a lot of good luck, he not.

  • Donald Giannatti

    I think we need a ban on rooftops.

  • Jason Philbrook

    It’s that Canon ad for sure. Working on roofs, towers, etc.. requires safety skills and/or equipment for good reasons, no matter what the task. That’s why this stuff is usually off limits. Deaths from heights are usually a result of ignoring safety rules/equipment.

  • Eziz

    So that means every single one of us, except you maybe, qualify because we did something stupid and risky and got out of it unharmed. I though Darwin awards were for extremely stupid acts such as jumping into a pool from a tree which is too far away.

  • Rick Drew

    Did you actually “read” the details. The fool was drunk, he broke onto the roof, climbed a ladder, and walked across a CHIMNEY – what, assuming the hole was painted there? He was an idiot. He was not a “roof top photographer.”