_Clarification has been added that the incident occurred inside a Joe Louis Arena parking structure, not a Cobo Center parking structure._
Wayne State undergraduate student Nicholas Artico died after attending a Red Wings game to celebrate his best friend Anthony Savone's birthday Jan. 25.
“Jan. 25 was my 24th birthday — we got Wings tickets to go to the game last-minute,” Savone said. “He wanted to go to the game early because he wanted to watch the players warm up on the ice. So I picked him up around 6:30,6:45-ish. We were in our seats by 7:10.
“(Nick) bought me a beer for my birthday,” he said. “He had a beer or two, we had some food and just had a good time. After the game, we were parked in (Joe Louis Arena) parking structure on level 3C. We were on top of 4, and he wanted a cigarette. So I walked downstairs and gave him a dollar for a cigarette. I told him ‘I’ll meet you by the car.’"
“I tried calling his phone; he wasn’t behind me after a few minutes,” Savone said. “I walked back to the door, and I heard screaming. I opened the door and didn’t see him. Everyone is saying, ‘He’s dead, he’s lying on the ground, he fell off,’ and when I looked down, he was laying on level 2C on his left side and wasn’t moving.
“His body was in shock. I called, the cops were on their way, so I called the ambulance, and then my next phone call was to Ben Wicks (another friend of Artico). So Ben contacted the family.”
Artico fell 30 feet to his death inside the parking structure. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead the next day around 4 p.m.
Though the 23-year-old left this world far too soon, he will always be remembered by his friends and family for the man he was and the way he lived his life.
Artico’s father, John, said that as a child and as an adult, Nick had loved sports and was always doing activities with his family or buddies.
“We had a pool in the backyard, and he enjoyed swimming — he enjoyed summertime swimming. He was a sports nut. He loved all sports, mainly football. He would play with his buddies out in the front yard,” Artico said.
He said his son had an “extensive network of friends” and that he was a people person with a contagious smile.
“He was, most of friends say, he was the glue between all his friends. He was known for bringing
everybody together as a group and making everybody having a good time,” he said.
Artico attended WSU with an initial plan to go to medical school. He realized later on that he was more interested in finance and thus switched his major to economics. His father said he wanted to do this because he was a “very smart kid who loved numbers.”
Wicks, Artico and Savone did everything together, all the way back to high school. Wicks had known Artico since first grade, and Savone first met him in high school.
“It was us three every day. I went to school with Nick since I was a freshman in high school, and we would hang out seven days a week. He was one of my best friends,” Savone said.
Savone shared one of many happy memories of his friendship with Nick:
“We used to play football in the backyard, and one day, I threw him a ball, and I broke his middle finger. He said it was just dislocated, and he kept playing, and the next day he put a splint on, and he wanted to played again because he loved football. My friend Ben threw the ball and broke his other middle finger ... It was just something we laughed about, always joked about.”
According to his friends, Artico was was a genuinely good person — an amazing guy with a very likable personality and a great smile — who cared about the people in his life.
“(His smile) was always there,” Wicks said. Savone said “the kid had a heart of gold — everywhere he went he had a smile on his face, no one was ever mad at him. You know you need a favor, he was just a phone call away. As long as I knew the kid, nine, 10 years of my life, I never saw the kid in a bad mood.”
Artico had a very close kinship with his family and friends. Savone said Artico’s mom, dad, and older brother were very close with him, as well as his friends. He said Artico’s family would let them come over and never complained about it. They loved having company over.
“The thing I am going to miss about him is that, as time would have gone on, he would have grown up to be a good man and (have a) family,” Wicks said. “And the thing that set him apart from the rest was when you talked to him you could see that he was listening to what you were saying.
“And most of the time, it’s become a cliché nowadays, but people don’t give a s**t nowadays, they are just waiting for their turn to talk. He genuinely cared about people. That is one of the biggest losses; he was somewhat of a humanitarian. He cared about people.”