How did man parachute from half-built high-rise?

April 6, 2011 4:33:24 AM PDT
There are new questions being raised about how a man was able to parachute from a half-built high-rise in downtown Chicago.

The incident happened early Sunday, resulting in the arrest of a 44-year-old thrill-seeker. How did he get access to the building?

Waterview Tower was to be a jewel of the Chicago riverfront, featuring the nation's first Shangri-La Hotel, along with multimillion dollar condos, luxury office space and high-end retail. But, three years ago, the project ran out of money and construction stopped with only 25 floors of girders in place.

It is an eyesore and potential safety hazard for the city-- and a perfect spot to jump for Shaun Walters.

"I could tell it was under construction by just looking at it," said Walters.

Walters was arrested by Chicago police as soon as he drifted to the ground in the darkness of early Sunday morning. The British citizen, who says he was visiting friends and is an avid adventurist, claims that he had easy access to the property at Clark and Wacker Drive, south of the Chicago River, and that no one stopped him from climbing to the top of the rusting superstructure.

"The rear of the building, it was just free access," said Walters. "It wasn't even boarded up or anything. No security."

There was security on hand at the same site last year when the I-Team investigated an unattended crane that had been atop the building for months and that city inspectors said posed an imminent safety threat to people below.

In court, the city eventually got the crane dismantled, and according to a spokesman for the law department, there is no pending litigation against the organization that has taken over the property in foreclosure.

City officials say the company, Clark Wacker LLC, is responsible for securing the site, which the weekend jumper says it wasn't.

Clark Wacker LLC did not return the I-Team's calls.

"I'm due in court in late May, 23-days before I fly back," said Walters. "Hopefully I'll get back base-jumping gear which has been confiscated. Hopefully the judge will help me out and give it back basically, and then I'll back off and learn my lesson and not do stupid things like that again. Keep it legal, keep it real."

In the settlement, the city has already received nearly a half-million dollars from building owners and stands to be paid another $925,000 when the property is sold.

In exchange, city officials have put off requiring demolition of the unfinished building until December, unless structural reports reveal "imminently dangerous and hazardous conditions."