Tommy Schuch first met Adam Rubin minutes after Rubin's first tandem sky-dive -- when Rubin had a huge smile splayed across his face and a promise to jump again on his lips.
The Stevenson High School graduate was hooked, Schuch remembers, and in four short years Rubin's love of the jump grew and became a lifestyle that included sky diving and base jumping and more.
On Friday, the Long Grove native's parachute failed to open properly during a base jump near Shoshone Falls on the Snake River in Idaho, officials said. Rubin, 23, died just before 8 p.m. Friday.
"He died doing something that he loved," said Schuch, 30, of Lake in the Hills. "You can't ever keep anyone out of the sky. Once you experience that -- it's just the most beautiful thing in the world.
It's a very beautiful thing that he had that much courage to chase something that he knows made him feel alive. Not a lot of people are brave enough to do that."
Schuch and Rubin met at Chicagoland Skydive Center in Rochelle and became fast friends, traveling to the annual Bridge Day event in Fayetteville, West Virginia, together to witness base jumping -- or jumping off a fixed object with a parachute -- for the first time.
After, the friends talked about the dangers of the sport and acknowledged that the possibility of death existed within each jump.
"I have a 7-year-old son, I'd never want to die," Schuch said. "But for me to be happy and live, I have to follow those dreams. That's why it was so important for Adam. He knew the risks. ... The most beautiful thing in the world can also be the worst thing. That's just part of it. That's just what makes it what it is."
Schuch said it's difficult for the general public to understand why some people are compelled to test the limits with extreme sports.
"They understand jumping out of a plane one time to get it off of your bucket list, but this is a lifestyle," he said. "When you face the things that you fear, that's when you can truly live, and that's what sky diving and base jumping and rock climbing is to some people. Everybody has their drive in life. You have to do what you love."
A local memorial service for Rubin is planned for later this week.