List of objects that have gone over Niagara Falls

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Numerous objects, both natural and artificial, have gone over the Niagara Falls. These events have been the result of both stunts and accidents, some of which have resulted in fatalities. The first recorded person to survive going over the falls was Annie Edson Taylor, who went over the falls in a barrel in 1901. 72 years previously, however, Sam Patch had jumped from a platform adjacent to Goat Island.[1][2]

An estimated 5,000 bodies were found at the foot of the falls between 1850 and 2011,[3] and an estimated 40 people are killed each year when they are swept over the falls—most of which are suicides.[4] Other figures suggest that the number of suicides is between 20 and 30, many of which are not publicized by officials.[5] The majority of jumps take place from the Canadian Falls, which account for between 55% and 70% of suicides.[5]

Mortality rate for the daredevil attempts over the falls is approximately 25%.[6][3]

People[edit]

Annie Edson Taylor posing with her wooden barrel (1901)
  • 1901 – On October 24, Annie Edson Taylor went over the falls in a barrel. She was mostly unharmed, but exited the barrel bleeding.[7]
  • 1903 – On July 2, Ed Delahanty, a baseball player, was swept over the falls. He had fallen from the International Railway Bridge, after having been kicked off a night train for drunk and disorderly conduct and threatening passengers. Delahanty's body was later recovered near the Maid of the Mist's berth; his body was mangled and one leg was severed.[8]
Bobby Leach posing with his steel barrel (1911)
  • 1911 – On July 25, Bobby Leach went over the falls in a barrel. He spent the following six months in hospital, recovering from two broken knee caps and a fractured jaw.[7]
  • 1920 – On July 11, Charles Stephens from Bristol went over the falls in a barrel. Bobby Leach and William "Red" Hill, Sr. urged Stephens to test his barrel over the falls before attempting the stunt, but he refused. When the barrel was recovered at the foot of the falls, the ballast had pulled Stephen's body out of the barrel, leaving just his right arm in the safety harness.[9]
  • 1928 – On July 4, Jean Lussier went over the falls in a large ball with a spring steel frame and a rubber covering.[10]
  • 1930 – On July 4, George Stathakis, a Greek immigrant working as a chef in Buffalo, New York, went over the falls in a barrel. Upon impact, the barrel was stuck behind a curtain of water and could not be recovered for 18 hours. Stathakis had an air supply of up to eight hours – although he had survived the initial fall, he died of suffocation.[11] Stathakis took the plunge with his pet turtle, which was said to be around 150 years old. The turtle survived the ordeal.[12][13]
  • 1930 – On September 5, the body of an unidentified woman went over the American Falls; the remains were seen in the lower river but sank.[14]
  • 1951 – On August 5, William "Red" Hill, Jr. (son of William "Red" Hill, Sr.) went over the falls in a craft he named "The Thing". The vessel broke apart on impact and Hill was killed; his body was found the following day.[15]
  • 1960 – On July 9, a seven-year-old American boy named Roger Woodward was swept over the falls. Woodward, his sister Deanne and boat driver James Honeycutt were in a 12-foot (3.7 m) aluminium fishing boat powered by a 7.5 horsepower (5.6 kW) motor which capsized. Roger, who was wearing a lifejacket and remained buoyant, was rescued by the Maid of the Mist at the bottom of the falls; Deanne was pulled from the river 20 feet (6.1 m) from the lip of the falls by two bystanders—John Hayes and John Quattrochi.[3][16] Honeycutt died in the accident.[16]
  • 1961 – On July 15, Nathan Boya (also known as William Fitzgerald) went over the falls in a rubber ball nicknamed the "Plunge-O-Sphere". The ball hit rocks on impact and bounced, but Boya was uninjured.[17]
  • 1981 – On August 29, Dunia Sayegh, a 28-year-old resident of Toronto, dropped her two-month-old son, Hesham, over the railing and into the river just up from the brink of Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, whereupon he was quickly swept over the falls. The boy's body was never found. Sayegh was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.[18][19][20] The charges were dismissed after Sayegh claimed she accidentally dropped the child after suffering a dizzy spell.
  • 1984 – On July 3, Karel Soucek went over the falls in a barrel. He emerged with only minor injuries to his face, caused by his wristwatch on impact with the water.[21] Soucek's descent was reported to be 75 miles per hour (121 km/h), and it took 45 minutes for the barrel to be recovered.[21]
  • 1985 – On August 18, Steve Trotter went over the falls in a barrel. It was his second attempt – his first, in November 1984, was foiled by the police.[22] Trotter's third attempt (on June 18, 1995) was also successful, when he went over the falls with Lori Martin.[22]
  • 1985 – On October 5, David Munday went over the falls in a barrel.[23] During his second attempt, in 1990, the barrel became lodged at the top of the falls and was removed by crane. His third attempt, in 1993, was successful.[23]
  • 1989 – On September 28, Peter De Bernardi and Jeffery James Petkovich went over the falls in a reinforced barrel. Their stunt was to draw attention to an anti-drugs campaign.[7][24]
  • 1990 – On June 5, Jesse Sharp went over the falls in a whitewater canoe. He intended to continue paddling downriver after the fall, and had made dinner reservations at a restaurant in Lewiston, 4 miles (6.4 km) downstream. After beginning the plunge he quickly disappeared into the falls and although his kayak was later found; his body was never recovered. Sharp decided not to wear a life jacket in case it impeded an escape should he get trapped under the falls, and refused to wear a helmet in order to keep his face recognizable to cameras.[25]
  • 1995 – On October 1, Robert Overacker went over the falls on a Jet Ski to raise awareness for the homeless. His rocket-propelled parachute failed to open and he plunged to his death. Overacker's body was recovered the next day and he was pronounced dead at Niagara General Hospital.[26][27]
  • 2003 – On October 22, Kirk Jones went over the falls. He became the first person to survive the drop without any aid in the fall, having swum from approximately 100 yards (91 m) before swimming over the falls. Jones and his friends had been drinking before the incident, and had planned to record the event—although his friends were not able to operate the recorder. Jones was fined $2,300 and banned for life from entering Canada.[7] Jones has said that his going over the falls was a suicide attempt rather than a stunt.[28]
  • 2009 – On March 10, an unnamed man attempted suicide over the falls. In the attempt, his clothes were ripped from his body and he suffered shock and a laceration to the head, but survived.[3]
  • 2011 – On May 26, an unidentified woman was killed after she was swept over Horseshoe Falls. Reports suggest that she appeared alive on approaching the brink, but was declared dead on arrival of the rescue boat.[29]
  • 2011 – On August 14, Ayano Tokumasu—a Japanese exchange student—was swept over the falls. Niagara Parks Police surveillance cameras show Tokumasu climbing onto the railing near the water's edge and sitting on a pillar block. At about 8:30 p.m. she stood up, lost her footing, and fell over the edge into the Niagara River, approximately 20 metres (66 ft) upstream from the falls.[30][31][32] Her body was recovered on August 18.[33]
  • 2012 – On May 21, an unidentified man in his early 40s became the fourth person[5] to survive an unprotected trip over Horseshoe Falls. Eyewitness reports indicate that he "deliberately jumped" into the Niagara River after climbing over a railing. He suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung and lacerations.[34]
  • 2017 – On April 19, Kirk Jones, the same man who went over the falls unprotected in 2003, attempted it again, this time inside an inflatable ball. He did not survive. The ball was picked up afterward by boat, and Jones's body was recovered on June 2.[35]
  • 2017 – On October 15, an unnamed 10-year-old boy fell between 30 and 60 metres (98 and 197 ft) into the Niagara gorge after losing his balance on a railing along the gorge. He was airlifted to hospital with non life-threatening injuries.[36]

Animals[edit]

  • Fish regularly swim down the falls. The rapids upstream are rich in nutrients which draw fish in, and the currents can disorient them sufficiently to cause them to go over the falls. More fish survive the fall over Horseshoe Falls than the American Falls, due to the latter's talus.[37] At one point, a tourist was grazed at the Cave of the Winds when a salmon was swept over the falls and hit him.[38]
  • Instances of waterfowl being swept over the falls have been recorded, particularly when disoriented in foggy weather.[38]
  • In 1827, William Forsyth, a hotel owner, bought a schooner called Michigan. He filled it with a buffalo, two small bears, two raccoons, and a dog. Some reports say two foxes, fifteen geese, and an eagle were also included. After the schooner was sent adrift, the two bears jumped free and swam to Goat Island. The rest of the animals, with the exception of the goose, perished going over the Falls.[39][40]
  • On October 19, 1901, a cat named Lagara was sent over the falls in a barrel and survived.[41]
  • On July 5, 1930, a turtle named Sonny went over the falls in a barrel with its owner, George Stathakis. The massive barrel survived the fall, but became trapped beneath the falls for hours. Stathakis suffocated and died, but the turtle, believed to be around 150 years old, survived.[12][13]

Inanimate objects[edit]

George Tattersall's The Destruction of the Caroline (c. 1837), a depiction of the Caroline aflame before going over the falls
  • 1829 – On November 23, a schooner named the Superior went over the falls. It was a deliberate event that was originally scheduled to coincide with Sam Patch's stunt, but the ship was caught in the falls' whirlpools and rested on rocks in shallow water for a month until stronger currents took it over the falls.[39]
  • 1837 – On December 29, the steamer Caroline was set alight and sent over the falls during the Upper Canada Rebellion. The events were part of the Caroline affair.[3]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Rosenberg-Naparsteck, Ruth (1991), "The Real Simon Pure Sam Patch" (PDF), Rochester History, LII (3): 9, ISSN 0035-7413, retrieved July 29, 2011
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  12. ^ a b Critical Past (1930), George L Stathakis smothers to death plunging over Niagara Falls in a barrel with his pet 150-year-old turtle. Turtle lives, Critical Past, retrieved February 18, 2013
  13. ^ a b Niagara Daredevils (2012), George Stathakis, Niagara Daredevils, retrieved February 18, 2013
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  15. ^ Obringer, Lee Ann (2011), How Going Over Niagara Works, How Stuff Works, p. 10, retrieved July 29, 2011
  16. ^ a b Info Niagara (2011), Account of Roger Woodward's Niagara Falls Incident, retrieved July 29, 2011
  17. ^ Obringer, Lee Ann (2011), How Going Over Niagara Works, How Stuff Works, p. 11, retrieved July 29, 2011
  18. ^ New York Times (1981), AROUND THE WORLD; Mother Drops Infant Into Niagara Falls, New York Times, retrieved April 12, 2013
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  38. ^ a b Berketa, Rick (2011), Frequently Asked Questions, Niagara Falls - Thunder Alley, retrieved July 29, 2011
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