Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 21, 2012

Man survives plunge over Horseshoe Falls

NIAGARA FALLS, ONT. —  

Crowds visiting Niagara Falls on the Victoria Day holiday watched the rescue of a man who plunged at least 180 feet over the falls and survived.

He's only the fourth person known to have gone over without a safety device and live.

Niagara Parks Police in Niagara Falls, Ont., say witnesses reported seeing the man climb over a railing at 10:20 a.m. Monday and "deliberately jump" into the Niagara River 20 to 30 feet above the Horseshoe Falls. He surfaced in the lower Niagara River basin near the Journey Behind the Falls observation platform.

Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side of the river, is the tallest of the three main falls, higher than the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.

The man, believed to be in his early 40s, was rescued about two hours after he collapsed in waist-deep water near the rocky shore. A waiting helicopter flew him to a hospital for treatment of what police said were life-threatening injuries. Police did not identify him.

Canandian Parks Police Sgt. Chris Gallagher and firefighter Brandon Fife treated the man at the water’s edge. The man was shirtless, Gallagher told the Niagara Falls, Ont., Review, but appeared to be wearing a pair of blue pants.

“He had some abrasions to the head and rest of his body. He was in good condition, considering,” said fire department platoon Chief Dan Orescanin to the Review.

”When we arrived, he was already on the shoreline with parks police. From our reports, it’s amazing, if that’s what happened,” Orescanin said.

Despite suffering what police later described as life-threatening injuries, the man was sitting up at the river’s edge. Rescuers wrapped him in a silver, foil-like emergency blanket. He was later immobilized by firefighters and loaded into a rescue basket to be lifted to the top of the gorge.

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