Man Is Fourth to Survive Niagara Falls Without a Barrel

May 22, 2012 8:23am

 

The man who climbed over a retaining wall before leaping into Horseshoe Falls in Ontario, Canada, in an apparent suicide attempt is at a hospital today with life-threatening injuries.

“He was obviously suffering,” Sgt. Chris Gallagher of the Niagara Parks Police said. “He had a large gash on the back of his head.  He had other injuries to his ribs. Mostly it was hypothermia, a little bit of shock. Wasn’t able to speak very well.

“Our main thing was to get him stabilized and get him some medical assistance as soon as possible.  That’s why we called in the air.  As soon as we could get him up top, we could at least fly him to a medical facility.”

Witnesses, many of  them celebrating Canada’s Victoria Day, told the Niagara Parks Police Service that they saw the man, believed to be in his mid-30s, climb high above the Canadian side of the falls and jump.

He later appeared in the lower Niagara River basin near the Journey Behind the Falls observation deck. “I saw the guy, he was on the river already floating going down on the fall,” once witness told ABC News.

The man improbably survived the 180-foot drop into the rocky depths of the falls in waters that average 30 to 40 degrees this time of year. The water speeds by at close to 70 miles per hour, with more than 6 million cubic feet of water rushing over the brink every minute.

He managed to swim to the shore, collapsing on this bed of rocks. He reportedly was found by park police before he collapsed. He was lifted out of the falls by a crane and then taken to a Hamilton-area hospital with life-threatening injuries.

“It is a very difficult slope from the location he was at to the base of the falls,”  Lt. Chief Dan Orescanin of the Niagara Falls, Ontario, Fire Department said. “It is very difficult to traverse, so we used the aerial ladders to bring him up. We sent seven firefighters over. Six of them went down and one of them went down with the basket.”

The Niagara Falls Review said the unidentified man’s leap was the fourth time a person had survived a jump over the falls without a barrel.

Seven-year-old Roger Woodward’s jump was dubbed the “Miracle at Niagara” in 1960 after he survived the falls with just a life vest on.

Kirk Jones survived the deadly drop in 2003.

“I heard a tremendous roar.  And I, and I felt, and felt and heard a suction,” Jones told “Good Morning America” in 2003. “I remember spiraling in a corkscrew and falling at a tremendous speed and the pressure upon my head.  It was unbelievable.”

An unidentified Canadian man also withstood the perilous plunge in 2009.

ABC News’ Amanda Keegan contributed to this report.

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