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A Cautionary Tale

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This was posted on one of the other forums I'm on, and was quite a major event in their community in 2008. It's worth a read, because it's a stark warning and reminder that we all need to take care where we step, especially those of us more inclined to clamber around rusty things at night.

 

Studies In Comfort - Ian Levack Sunday June 15th 2008



Ryan and I woke with a plan. The plan being to sneak into the abandon R.L. Hearn Thermal Generation Power Plant which is located in the south east area of downtown Toronto. We had made a trip over to the power plant a week prior to scout out the area, to see where guards were located and to find easy access inside. Sneaking past the guard house located at the front of the property and making our way along the north west section of property towards the back of the plant where the barbed wire fence was weakest. We then smoked three quarters of a joint together before working up the nerve to hop the fence. Ryan went first, watching him hop the fence and dart out into the yard and hiding behind scrap metal for cover then finally making it to the back of the building. Then it was my turn. What excitement that was, knowing your breaking the law to do something adventurous. After getting onto the property we were standing at the back of the Hearn and looking for our way inside. To do so we had to hop up onto a metal fence post and from there had to reach up and grab ahold of plywood that covered up the tall entrance area. A good 15 foot climb up, over and in. Once inside the first photo that was taken was the one of Ryan and I standing together, titled "final hours". This place was like no other we had ever explored together. The shear size of it all was breathtaking and mind blowing at the same time. The beauty of destruction. After the first photo was taken we started exploring the plant.

 

Taking the necessary precautions we had come prepared with asbestos masks and flashlights. We had made our way around on the ground floor, through locker rooms, showers, storage rooms. Then we started making our way up stairs to the 2nd and 3rd level offices, had the remainder of our joint together. From the office levels we went back onto the factory area and started climbing the metal stairs up further still. Some photos show how high up we were in that building. We then made ourselves up onto the roof. What a view from there looking out over the city core. Looking out over Lake Ontario we saw really dark storm clouds. Ryan pulled out a cigarette and had a smoke. We were up on the roof for about a half hour before Ryan asked me "what do you want to do now man". "Do you want to go home now or stay a bit longer and explore?". My camera battery had died at this point and being there any longer served no purpose for me. I was hesitant on a response because at the same time I wanted to keep exploring because the plan was to keep coming back weekend after weekend to explore and document the old structure. I then agreed to keep exploring. We came in off the roof, coming down a level, walked through a doorway into a long looking dark room. All across the top level of The Hearn runs conveyor belts that run coal from one end to the other. Walking together along the metal grating flooring. Ryan was 2 feet in front of me. I then ended up tripping over a small extruded piece of metal on the floor, and from that second on I pointed my flashlight directly onto the floor to see where I was walking. Very shortly after this happens, in mid sentence Ryan just falls into blackness. All I see is from his waist up as he plunges into complete blackness and followed by about 4-5 seconds before hearing a sick crash far below. I then look 2 feet in front of me and see there is no more floor. My imediant thought is that he is dead. Then my brain clicks "I have to get my best friend out of here". I then tried my best to back track to get out of the building, taking a route that he and I had not taken to get to this point. All I knew is I had to get out of The Hearn and find someone that could help. I don't even know how I got out of that place. When I did I came out on the back side of the building, ran around to the guard house screaming for help. I screamed to the guard that my best friend just fell in there and is hurt really bad, he asked what we were doing in there and I told him we were just taking photos. The guard then called like every paramedic, fire and police officer in the city.

 

About 10 minutes after the call was made all I could hear were the sirens. Scared and relived at the same time I was. Once they all showed up I told them Ryan was in there, that we were up high in the building and he fell. All the cops were telling me to retrace my steps, they wanted to see where we came in from. I screamed at them "we don't have time for that right now, my best friend is dying in there". I then started leading them to the front of the Hearn because I knew it was the closet way inside. We get to the front and all entrances were boarded up. One cops said to me "Ian there is no way in through this way, you have to show us where you came in from". I then demanded to the fire fighters that they bust this plywood down to get inside. Once inside the cops started fucking with my mind, me being in total shock at the time they started asking me where we had explored, they wanted me to take them on what would have been a few hours of exploration, which we didn't have time for. Then an officer finds his asbestos mask and glasses. My first thought is he was okay, that he somehow managed to crawl out under his own power. I was wrong. His mask and glasses had bounced off of objects on the fall and Ryan was nowhere to be found. The police tried getting ahold of Rogers Communication to see if they could pin point his location with the cell phone he had on him. They ended up using thermal vision to locate him. He was trapped in a coal hopper located high up in the building. I was escorted out at this point in time because I was too "hysterical" for the cops liking.

 

Two and a half hours went by, a fierce thunderstorm was passing through. While they were working on getting Ryan out I was giving my statement to the police. Never gave one of those in my life. I told them everything that I am writing here right now, everything, even the joint smoking. I had Nothing to hide. We went in undetected but I didn't care if the whole world was watching at this point, I was doing what any best friend would do. I was trying to save him. City Pulse News was there and I was trying to hide from them. I was scared that this is how his family would find out and how my family would find out, being Fathers days and all. After two and a half hours of hell they finally got Ryan out. I watched them carry him out on a backboard and I yelled to him that I loved him. Ryan was rushed to St. Micheals Hospital. The best in all the city for trauma. I followed about an hour after him, being escorted in a police car. On the drive one officer said to me "this is going to cost you and your buddy about a hundred thousand dollars for all that had to be done here today". What a jackass thing to say. I responded by saying "I don't give a fuck about money, take all I have from me I don't care, I'm loosing the most important person in my life right now". We get to the hospital, I enter the trauma wing of St. Micheals. They told me that I was going to be the one to call the home of the Nyenhuis'. I thought that was insane, and told them I could not make that call, that they would have to. I then went into the waiting room, sat down. I remember the NBA finals were on the televisions in there and I ended up falling asleep somehow. Waking to Stevie and Tammy's faces hours later (Stevie being Ryan's room mate and Tammy being Ryan's girlfriend). Stevie told me that John and Cheryl were on their way and that we could go up stairs to the trauma ward to see Ryan. The trauma centre, located on the 9th floor of St. Micheal's Hospital. Hours passed by, as the night went on the news kept getting worse and worse about his condition. I ended up leaving to come back to my apartment at 6am the following morning, I had to talk to my parents and try and shovel some food into my system. Still being in shock and never got treatment for shock when it happened.

 

I returned to the hospital at 3pm that day. Only to find nothing had changed with his condition. Then came the worst words I ever had to hear, Ryan's father coming in the room and telling me it was time to say goodbye to Ryan. We made our way into where he was being cared for. To see my best friend in the state he was in broke my heart. Blood coming out the back of his head, body black and blue bruised from head to toe, internal damage that could not be repaired, feeling his forehead and it being ice cold. He was laying there infront of us, dead. Machines were the only thing keeping him "alive". I said my goodbyes to him, telling him that he can't leave me here, he can't leave the creation of Studies In Comfort behind, something that is so brillant, that we were supposed to take over the world together and do all that was planned. I told him to haunt me. I then looked at his eyes and saw tears. He may have been brain dead but I know he heard every word I said. Doctors did not give an explanation to what was coming out of his eyes. If only I had said to Ryan "hey man watch your step" he might still be alive today. I have been told over and over again that I can not blame myself for what happened that day. I sometimes still do. Ryan and I once had a conversation that if something ever happened to one of us that Studies In Comfort would stop, without a core creator there is no sense to continue it. Well I am going against those wishes. I can't lose what he and I created even before it took off the ground. I now know my purpose in life. To carry on Studies In Comfort. I must continue on for him, finish off the 3 studio albums we had in the works and continue on with this art form. Ryan died at the wheel and I have moved his lifeless body to the passengers seat and now a fucking insane madman is driving the mac truck, running over all who get in our way. Ryan Nyenhuis, whos favourite artist was Nine Inch Nails, who lived on floor number 9, who wore a roman numeral 9 on his right arm, who died on the 9th floor at St. Micheal's Hospital, Toronto. Thank you to 55 Division and all the paramedics and fire fighters who helped get Ryan out of that dark place. Ryan Nyenhuis is survived by his father, John, mother Cheryl, sisters, Jennifer and Leah, dog Sophie, myself and Studies In Comfort. Ryan John Nyenhuis July 28th 1981 - June 15th 2008 We love and miss you.

 

Be careful out there...

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It's certainly a sad tale to read, and is a reminder that things can go terribly wrong very quickly if you're not careful. There have been several well known explorers in the UK that have hurt themselves quite badly, but thankfully (as far as I know) no one has actually died in the UK while exploring. I'm sure however that with the rise in popularity of the hobby that it will happen one day, maybe in the not too distant future, maybe in 5 years time, who knows. 

 

Definitely be careful out there! 

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This is a heart wrenching tale & serves as a sobering reminder that what we do for fun is inherently dangerous. I myself took things too far while exploring in Poland a couple of years back. I fell from the side of a building whilst trying to reach the first floor to gain entry. I plummeted 4 meters & shattered my left heel bone. What transpired after that was a painful recovery over 6 months, 3 of which without being able to walk at all. The pain that I feel in it every day is a reminder that I well & truly fucked up, & what haunts me even now is that it could have been so much worse. It's all too easy to get caught up in the moment & throw caution to the wind, I urge you all to take care of yourselves & other with you whilst on these pursuits, it's really not worth losing your life over.

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Certainly a sobering read and so true that things can easily go horribly wrong. Trouble is the adrenaline kicks in and the 'fuck it' mindset takes over. Hindsight is a great thing but there's been a few times that I've thought shit that  was a bit too sketchy and/or that I was lucky to get away with just a minor knock or scratch.

 

Be careful out there kids :thumb

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Right in the feels :( that was a rather sobering read, it could happen to anyone which is the scary thing! I've Been in a few situations which could of gone tits up very easily but sometimes you have to weigh up if it's worth risking your life for a few pictures! 

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Makes you rethink your actions when you read something like that. I always think it'll never happen but hey one day it might. Could be years, or days away. I'll be putting a little more thought into what I/we do from now on for sure. 

 

Some things are worth dying for. But I'd say those things are family and friends, not photos.

 

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Thank you for posting.  In recent weeks ive been walking on thinner and thinner ice and one very close scare. This has reaffirmed that I/we need to be more careful sometimes. 

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Such a sad thing to read. Reading it is very heartfelt and you can sense his loss in his words. Most of us are pretty aware of the dangers in places like these but I can see how sometimes people can get caught up in a moment and end up injured or worse. It takes a split second to be chatting and forget about where you are. Like Maniac says, the hobby is getting increasingly more popular and as sad as it sounds it is probably only a matter of time before the inevitable happens on this side of the water.

 

Stay safe!

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its certainly a harrowing read, but I think the biggest thing to take from this isn't that you need to witch your each an every step, but just have a bit of wit about you. Even a small bit.

 

its a massive power plant, and every picture I have seen taken has a mass of rat runs, pipes and lots of other things that can be deadly.

 

walk slowly, take it all in. With the exception of dodgy floor boards, you should be seeing immediate dangers. 

 

I would not have been waiting to trip on something before I lit the pathway up.

 

this reminds me so much of fullers earthworks. I don't think I'd even attempt it in the dark.

 

the sensationalism in this dude I can appreciate due to the experience, but not wanting to let the cops know how he got in? Bit of a dick head thing to do, especially trying to dress it up that they were somehow stalling.

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