Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"The Impossible" - Again

When I set up this web site, I really never thought that I'd be covering news in it. But "the impossible" has happened - again! Wednesday afternoon [March 11, 2009], a man went over the Canadian, or Horseshoe, Falls - without protective equipment of any kind - and survived! Here's a report on the incident [with in-page video]from Buffalo, NY TV station WIVB:

As this is being written [pre-dawn, March 12], the man's name and current condition are unknown. If he survives, he would become only the second person in recorded history to survive a Falls plunge without protective equipment. The first was Kirk Jones, featured in the next story [also with in-page video] , again from WIVB-TV:

[Jones' story will be the subject of a future post on this site. Watch for it]
As anyone who watches those "Magic Revealed" shows on TV would expect, there is much puzzlement about how Jones, and the unidentified jumper Wednesday, survived their plunges. Yesterday's incident is difficult to explain on a few levels:

-how could anyone survive the pummeling waters during the descent? - the waters of Niagara have carved the River's path through miles of solid rock over the centuries. One telling fact; there is a pool of water directly below the Horseshoe Falls. Despite the fact it is in water tranquil enough to operate tour boats [The Maid Of The Mist boats have used this route for over a century], no one knows how deep the pool is!

-what about the rocks behind and beneath the Falls? - here both Jones and the unknown jumper had a little luck [or, in the case of Jones, possibly planning. We'll touch more on that in his story]. Both men went over the Horseshoe Falls. Had either one had the misfortune to enter the water at the American Falls, it's likely they would have perished on the massive pile of rocks at its base.

-could the weather have played a part? - perhaps. I don't remember the weather conditions when Jones leaped in 2003 but, in recent days, there has been a good deal of rain in this area [in fact a flood watch was in effect for much of Wednesday]. Temperatures have been above freezing, melting much of the snow and ice around here, pushing more water into the River. This comes into play when you become aware that, during Winter months, the water flow over the Falls is reduced, allowing more electricity to be generated by power plants in the US and Canada. Jones speculated that a rush of water may have pushed him out past the rocks, allowing him to land in the pool at the base of the Horseshoe Falls. Could the increased flow of water from the rain and snow run-off have aided our unknown jumper?
All questions that may, or may never, be answered.

There is something magnetic about Niagara. Even in the coldest days of Winter, tourists arrive from around the world to view, to contemplate, to ponder. And sometimes they arrive for other reasons, as someone did one day in the 1980's:

A good question, Fred. It's believed on the order of 2,000 people have killed themselves by plunging into the roiling waters of Niagara in the last 40 years. And suicides at the Falls are not a new phenomenon; reports exist of suicides there as far back as records have been kept. Is Niagara cursed? A question to ponder...

I'll update this story as more information becomes available. Till then, be well and happy.

-Mike Riley


Anonymous said...

I live near NF and thought of you when this was covered in The Buffalo News!

Mike Riley said...


Thanks for visiting! I hope you enjoyed some of the other stories of Niagara.