Rescue 2

Emergency personnel prepare to enter the water to rescue a man clinging to a log in the Niagara River off of Goat Island.

I witnessed history on Thursday.

That's not all I saw though.

I saw bravery, honest-to-goodness bravery, as well.

Just when I start to forget how great my job is, I see a post on Facebook suggesting there's a man clinging to a log in the middle of the upper Niagara River not too far away from the brink of Niagara Falls. With that, I'm out of the office on my way to find out what's happening and I end up watching one of the most amazing dramas I have ever seen unfold in my 20-plus years of working as a reporter and editor.

The rescue at the Falls had it all.

Most importantly, it had a group of heroic first responders who literally risked their lives to venture out into the raging rapids along the river about 100 or so yards from the brink.

Major Clyde Doty from the Niagara Falls State Park Police and Niagara Falls Fire Department members Gordy Stewart, Gerald Frazier and Aaron Malstrom didn't just do their jobs on Thursday.

They risked their own lives to save another man's life.

Impressive isn't the word for it.

There just aren't enough superlatives to offer up in a case like this.

As I watched from the safety of the shore, I could feel my own pulse quicken, my heart rate accelerate.

Would the man be able to keep hanging on?

Would the two firefighters who ventured out first be able to secure him and pull him back to shore?

Once the initial rescue attempt failed and the man started floating toward the brink of the falls, it honestly felt like all hope was lost.

Then, miraculously, out there in the water attached to a tether just off the shore of Luna Island was Doty who, for whatever reason, decided he should get in the water just in case Stewart and Frazier had some sort of "mishap."

Doty worked his way out to a spot in the river where he thought the man might drift to him and that's just exactly what happened.

Incredible instincts. Incredible timing. Incredible positioning. It was all just incredible!

For what seemed like hours, but was in reality a matter of dozens of minutes, Doty held the man in place with the water rushing around him while Malstrom made his way out to pull both of them back to shore.

It felt like only 15 or 20 minutes or so after everyone was out of the water safe before there, standing right there in front of me conducting an interview with the media, was Doty himself.

He was as cool as cool could be.

Doty showed absolutely no sign of distress as he took questions and answered them about his "day on the job."

One of his first comments was the simplest: "I'm glad it worked out."

It sure did, thanks to him and those three firefighters.

As debates in places like Niagara Falls City Hall rage over how many police or firefighters should be on the payroll or how much money they should be paid to fall within their proper level of worth, people should be reminded of the courage shown by Doty and company on Nov. 7, 2019.

They turned what seemed like a hopeless situation into a successful rescue.

They gave a man who seemed lost the chance to live another day.

They displayed true bravery, courage and heroics out on that water.

You couldn't pay me enough to do it.

It wasn't a movie, but it felt like I was watching a scene out of an action or adventure flick designed to quicken the pulse and make you wonder if the good guys would be successful in the end and if everyone would get home safe.

It was, without a doubt, the most amazing live event I've ever covered.

I'm glad I got my butt out of the chair and out of the office to get their in time to see it all unfold.

Our community should be intensely proud of these guys for doing what they did.

They rescued a man from near-certain death while battling swirling, swift-moving water along the upper Niagara River near the brink of Niagara falls.

As they are called to do everyday and as they do whenever the circumstances present themselves, they put their own lives on the line in an effort to save the life of another human being.

In talking to Doty, you got a sense that he considered it all just a part of his job, which, when you think about it, is really the most amazing part of this most amazing Niagara Falls tale.

Contact News Director Mark Scheer at 282-2311, ext. 2250.

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