Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 26, 2013

Park Police search for body of college student swept over Falls Saturday

Niagara Gazette — New York State Park Police spent much of the day Monday on an icy overhang at the brink if the falls.

A specially trained rescue and recovery team was looking for the body of a man that apparently committed suicide there over the weekend.

“We were looking for the victim from Saturday night,” Park Police Lt. Patrick Moriarty said. “We were checking to make sure that the spots at the brink of the falls were clear.”

Park Police were assisted by a helicopter from the Erie County Sheriff’s Department Aviation Unit. Moriarty said the chopper checked the area around the base of the falls, in the Maid of the Mist boat launch area and under and north of the Rainbow Bridge.

“The results were negative,” Moriarty said. 

Witnesses told Park police officers that they saw a young man hop the fence at Prospect Point, slide down the ice and then jump into the icy water of the Niagara River at the brink of the falls. The man was then swept over the brink.

A short time later, officers recovered some personal belongings of the victim.

“We recovered some property,” Moriarty said. “We’re pretty confident that property belongs to the young man who went into the water and was swept over the falls.”

While Park Police do not generally release the identity of suicide victims, Moriarity did confirm the man was a 21-year-old student at Houghton College in Allegany County. 

The college, in a news release on it’s website, said the young man was from North Carolina and in his junior year. 

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the untimely loss to our community,” said Houghton College president Shirley Mullen. “(He) was an accomplished young scholar with a promising future in theological study. Our prayers are with his family and his many friends and colleagues in these difficult days.”

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