Niagara Falls Suicide Jumper Survives Plunge over Horseshoe Falls - 11 March 2009





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Published on Mar 12, 2009

Niagara Fall's Suicide Jumper Survives Suicide Plunge over Canadian side of Niagara's Horseshoe Falls.

At at 2 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009, a 30 y.o. man from western Ontario, calmly entered the rapids above Horseshoe Falls, and survived the 170 ft plunge, and another 45 minutes in the freezing water of the falls pool, while evading rescue efforts. He was definitely not a daredevil pulling a stunt. The force of the falls completely stripped him of his cloths. First taken to Greater Niagara General Hospital and later, transferred to Hamilton General Hospital, his condition was upgraded from critical to stable, with expectation of a full recovery. Only two other people and one dog are known to have survived the plunge without protection.

One eyewitness, Konstantin Shatalov, was interviewed. Some video footage by Julia Nawrocki is spliced in, of efforts by
Ruedi Hafen who is the private helicopter pilot.

Though conscious when taken by ambulance, the man (identity not released) suffered hypothermia and a head injury. He fought off emergency responders from the Niagara Falls, Ont., police and fire departments, who tried to rescue him by helicopter and from the shore. He removed a harness that the helicopter rescuers secured around him, and he swam away from several other attempts. Finally, the helicopter downdraft was used to push him out of an eddy, while a firefighter swam about 50 yards into the Niagara River to grab him. Amazing enough to survive the plunge, the man also survived near certain hypothermia in the freezing water. Large ice chunks flowed around him and an ice bridge still crossed the Niagara river a short distance downstream from him.

Stunters are finned and charged for their rescue. Depression and other illnesses which induce suicide are not illegal and not fined.

There are 12 to 18 suicides per year at Niagara Falls, as compared to about 25 at the Golden Gate Bridge. Many people are rescued above the falls, from suicide attempts and accidents. A known total of 15 people in 15 (planned and admitted) over-the-Falls stunts (2 men did 2 stunts, and 2 stunts were a pair) were performed since 1900. Of those, 9 survived, including the two women and one African American stunters. Six (6) men perished. A turtle survived in one and a dog in another - the dog had it's nose stuck in the only air hole - the man suffocated. An equal number of people attempted but did not succeed in going over the Falls. The first successful stunt was performed on 24 Oct 1901 by Annie Edson Taylor, on her birthday, using a seeled barrel. She used her cat inside a barrel in a test run, which failed. Challengers usually used air holes, and later air bottles to survive till rescue. It is a race against time for air capacity if a barrel gets caught behind the falls after plunging. Only one man attempted a stunt trip over the American Falls, using a 9-foot rubber ball device he built to survive the rocks. He was stopped and arrested before he launched.

On 9 July 1960, 7 y.o. Roger Woodward became the "Miracle of the Niagara" when he survived a Horseshoe Falls plunge, after a boating mishap, with only a life vest and bathing suit for protection. His 17 y.o. sister, Deanne, was grabbed at the top by two tourists as she came along the side of Goat Island, seconds before the falls edge. Boat owner and family friend, James Honeycutt, died. On 20 Oct 2003, Michigan resident and auto parts worker, Kirk Raymond Jones was drinking earlier in the day and became the first person to backstroke over Horseshoe Falls and survive, wearing only his clothes. Entering the rapids in Canada, he calmly smiled at tourists as he went over the brink. People were shocked to see him surface and swim to shore. Despite a judge's decision, Jones has denied it was a planned stunt. In the 1800's a dog was swept over the falls and survived. Other animals are believed to have survived from time to time but were never confirmed.

Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls is the largest of the Niagara falls, that include Rainbow (American) Falls and Luna (Bridal Veil) Falls. Most of the Niagara River is diverted for hydro power generation in Ontario and NY. By a US-Canada treaty, in order to balance Falls beauty, power generation, and reduce erosion, 45 million gallons (6 million cubic ft or 168,000 cubic meters) of water go over the falls every minute during tourist season daytime (50% is diverted), with half of that amount during night and non-tourist season (75% is diverted). Rapids above the Falls reach a speed of 25 mph / 40 kph. The fastest recorded speed is 68mph, at the brink of the Falls.

Risk and efforts by private helicopter pilot, Ruedi Hafen.
Eyewitness: Konstantin Shatalov .
Helicopter video footage by Julia Nawrocki.
Canwest News Service
Video taken by Julia Nawrocki
© Copyright (c)


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