A man in his 40s survived and was lifted to safety during a harrowing rescue after he plunged at least 180 feet over Niagara Falls in an apparent suicide attempt.
The unidentified man was only the third person known to have gone over the falls without a safety device and lived.
Niagara Parks Police say witnesses reported seeing the man climb over a railing at 10:20 a.m. on Monday and “deliberately jump” above Horseshoe Falls and into the Niagara River.
Parks police Sgt. Chris Gallagher, the first rescuer to reach the man, told the Toronto Sun: “We have confirmed reports from witnesses that he entered [the water] above the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and was swept over the falls.”
He surfaced in the river basin near an observation platform.
“He waded ashore,” said Platoon Chief Dan Orescanin of the Niagara Falls, Ontario, 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,” Dan Orescanin said.
“If he was in the main current, he would have been swept down river.”
Dan Orescanin said the man was conscious and talking at first but got quiet. He appeared to have chest injuries, including broken ribs and a collapsed lung, Dan Orescanin said.
Breathtaking images showed the victim and his rescuer dangling high above the falls by an aerial fire truck.
A waiting helicopter flew him to a hospital, where a spokeswoman said he has critical but non-life-threatening injuries, which was echoed by rescue personnel.
Dan Orescanin told the Sun: “He had some abrasions to the head and rest of his body. He was in good condition, considering.”
Niagara Parks Police say it appears the jump was a suicide attempt.
It was the first time since March 11, 2009 that someone survived a jump into the falls.
On that day, the 30-year-old Canadian man, who was never identified, survived after he plummeted into the water, but suffered from a contusion on his head and severe hypothermia.
Kirk Jones of Michigan became the first person to survive the leap on October 20, 2003, suffering only bruises, scrapes and battered ribs.