Niagara Gazette

Local News

November 9, 2012

Rocky Rescue

Niagara Gazette — A woman who may have slipped into the cold waters of the Niagara River, just upstream from the Whirlpool, was pulled to safety later Friday afternoon by New York State Park police and Niagara Falls firefighters.

The drama began unfolding between 3:30 and 4 p.m., when Brian Gates, a native Western New Yorker back visiting from his home in Houston, and some friends and family, noticed something in the water as they walked along the gorge trail in Whirlpool State Park.

"I took out my binoculars and it looked like there was a person trying to crawl out of the water," Gates said. "She looked very tired and she had her head down. She didn't look like she could hold herself up."

Gates called for help and Park police and city firefighters responded. Rescuers descended into the gorge and found the woman close to the shoreline.

"She was right at the edge of the shore, but she couldn't step up (out of the water)," Battalion Chief Cliff Mayes said. "It was more a matter of she didn't have the strength to pull herself out."

Fire Captain Mike Perri and Firefighter John Castellani went into the water and were able to pull the woman up on to the shore. Park Police Major David Page said the woman did not appear to be seriously injured.

"She seems to be stable and alert and has minor injuries," Page said. 

The major described the woman as "middle-aged" and "from Western New York," but did not release any additional information about her pending the notification of her family. Once the woman had been pulled onto the shore, the Erie County Sheriff's Department helicopter responded and lowered a basket to pull her up to safety.

Officials said because the water in the river has turned cold, in addition to a brisk wind that was blowing during the rescue, they were concerned about the woman suffering from hypothermia.

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