BEVERLY — The last text message John Allen Jr. sent his friend and co-worker Timothy Ermon urged him to "stay safe."
That would be the final exchange between Allen and Ermon, who died early Saturday after divers pulled him from the Chicago River near Trump Tower, according to Chicago police.
"He was just always business-minded. He was always running ideas by me," said Allen, who hired Ermon three years ago to work in the member sales department at LA Fitness in the South Loop.
Ermon, 24, of the 2300 block of West 103rd Street in Beverly was seen taking off his clothes near the railing on the north side of the river before jumping into the water, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said Tuesday.
He was pulled from the river about 25 minutes later, at 2:04 a.m., in the 400 block of North Wabash Avenue. He told people nearby that he was a good swimmer but then went underwater, Langford said.
Ermon was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died at 3:19 a.m. He was identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, which had not listed his cause of death as of Tuesday afternoon.
Allen, a Bronzeville resident, has struggled in the wake of Ermon's death, saying jumping into the water in the River North neighborhood was uncharacteristic of his friend's personality.
"I can't make any sense of how it happened, not knowing what the circumstances are," he said.
Nevertheless, he said he'll remember his 170-pound friend for being ambitious both inside and outside the gym. In fact, Ermon would often challenge the 220-pound Allen when they were working out together.
"He wanted to beat me at everything. He would say, 'One day, I'm going to catch you,'" said Allen, adding that Ermon had just enrolled in school and had strong entrepreneurial leanings.
Ermon "was very, very confident in himself," Allen said.