A Coast Guard officer lowered to the vehicle by helicopter pulled a woman from a vehicle that was dangerously close to the brink of the American Falls, one of the three waterfalls that collectively form Niagara Falls on the Niagara River along the Canada–United States border, but the victim ultimately perished from the tragic incident.
American Falls, which is a comparatively small waterfall —although it is higher than the Canadian part of the Horseshoe Falls—that is situated in the State of New York between Prospect Point and Luna Island. the United States’ side of Niagara Falls.
The vehicle was nearly submerged in the river, only 50 yards from the edge where it might have dropped from 70 to 110 feet.
Dozens of fire and police crews converged on the scene. A state parks police officer was reportedly seen putting on diving gear before the Coast Guard helicopter arrived.
Shortly after 2 p.m., a rescue diver, who was carrying an ax, was lowered from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter hovering above the vehicle, which was largely submerged less than 100 feet from the brink of the waterfall.
A video posted by Niagara Action showed the daring rescue attempt as a heavy river current flowed over the vehicle.
State Park Police said the woman was in her 60s. She was unresponsive and taken from the scene by ambulance after she was brought to land but the victim was later confirmed dead by New York State Park Police Cpt. Christopher Rola.
The police investigation into how the woman drove into the river is still ongoing. She is believed to be the only occupant of the car.
A diver in an orange suit was lowered from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter down to the car as the helicopter’s blades whipped up the already strong river current.
The diver, carrying an ax, went into the passenger side and pulled the person from the passenger side door. The two were carried over to the ground.
The dark-colored compact vehicle was roughly 30 feet from the edge of land in the park. It was mostly submerged in the river and the trunk was open, facing the brink of the falls.
Police were able to read the license plate and identify the owner of the vehicle, though it wasn’t clear whether that was the woman who was pulled from it. There were no other occupants.
Horseshoe Falls, also known as Canadian Falls, is the largest of the three where after diversions for hydropower generation, 90% of the Niagara River flows, leaving the remaining 10% to spill from American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, the smallest of the three aquatic cascades that make up Niagara Falls.
Since 500 A.D., more than 5,000 people have gone over Niagara Falls, either intentionally—as stunts or suicide attempts—or accidentally.
The first recorded person to survive going over the falls was school teacher Annie Edson Taylor, who in 1901 successfully completed the stunt inside an oak barrel.
In the 120 years since then, thousands of people have been swept over the falls but only sixteen people have reportedly survived the feat.
All instances of people having survived the trip over the falls have been over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
Following the death of a daredevil in 1951, stunting at Niagara Falls has been illegal and subject to fines of up to $25,000.