Monday morning a man plunged over Niagara Falls and fell approximately 55 meters (180 feet), landing in the lower Niagara River basin. Somehow, he survived the horrific fall.
Witnesses said the man climbed out on a railing over the Horseshoe Falls at 10:20 a.m. and deliberately jumped, reported several media sources. Surveillance tape confirmed witness accounts, and officials say this was an attempted suicide.
“Based on witness statements and surveillance video, it doesn’t appear in any way, shape, or form that this was anything other than a suicide attempt,” Niagara Parks Police Sgt. Chris Gallagher told WIVB News in Buffalo.
"We have confirmed reports from witnesses that he entered (the water) above the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and was swept over the falls. He went over the falls and survived," said parks police Sgt. Chris Gallagher, the first rescuer to make contact with the man, reported the Toronto Sun. "He did this of his own accord."
The man surfaced in the lower Niagara River basin near the Journey Behind the Falls observation platform and somehow made it to shore, said officials.
"He waded ashore," said platoon chief Dan Orescanin of the Niagara Falls fire department. "He must have gotten swept into an eddy, floated over there and was able to get out on his own."That's another stroke of luck," Orescanin said. "If he was in the main current, he would have been swept down river."
The man was in the frigid water for one to two hours while rescuers worked to pull him up in a rescue basket. He was found to be severely injured, suffering from hypothermia, fractured ribs, and many abrasions to his head and face. Initially, he was able to communicate with rescuers, but subsequently had become very quiet.
The man, reported to be in his 30s or 40s, has not been unidentified by authorities. He is one of four individuals to have survived this steep plunge without the use of a safety device.
According to the Herald News, a Hamilton General Hospital spokesperson said the man was critically injured, but is expected to survive. WVIB updated this morning he is in stable condition.
Horseshoe Falls is the tallest and the largest of the main falls located at Niagara.