List of people who have gone over Niagara Falls

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Since 1850, 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 following 120 years, 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 one daredevil in 1951, stunting at Niagara Falls has been illegal and subject to fines of up to $25,000 USD.

History[edit]

A number of people have gained notability by their stunts, both successful and fatal. The first documented survival of a trip over Niagara Falls was that of school teacher Annie Edson Taylor in 1901. Taylor went over the falls in an oak barrel as part of a stunt in an attempt to bring her financial security.[1] Other daredevil attempts have been made by Bobby Leach, Charles Stephens, Jean Lussier, Karel Soucek, and Steve Trotter.[1][2][3][4][5] In 1903, baseball player Ed Delahanty died after accidentally going over the falls while intoxicated.[6] Following the death of daredevil William "Red" Hill, Jr. in 1951, Ontario Premier Leslie Frost issued an order to the Niagara Parks Commission to arrest anyone found to be performing stunts at the falls.[7] Both Canadian and American authorities began to issue fines for daredevils at the falls; as of 2011, the fines are $10,000 CAD (approximately $7,700 USD) in Canada, or $25,000 USD (approximately $32,800 CAD) in the United States.[8]

When the American Falls was temporarily diverted in 1969, two bodies were found; the identities were not disclosed.[9] There have been no recorded cases of people surviving the trip over the American Falls.

Statistics[edit]

An estimated 5,000 bodies were found at the foot of the falls between 1850 and 2011.[10] On average, between 20 and 30 people die going over the falls each year.[11] The majority of deaths are suicides, and most take place from the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Many of these suicides are not publicized by officials.[11]

Mortality rate for the daredevil attempts over the falls is approximately 25%.[12][10]

List[edit]

Joseph Avery stranded in Niagara River
Annie Edson Taylor posing with her wooden barrel (1901)
Bobby Leach posing with his steel barrel (1911)
Date Individual Fate Falls Circumstances
July 19, 1853 Joseph Avery[a] Fatality American Falls[13] Avery and two other men had been working on a scow and drinking, and attempted to row from Goat Island to the mainland when their boat capsized; the two other men went over the American Falls immediately.[13] Avery grabbed onto tree roots growing from a rock just east of Chapin Island and weathered the current for eighteen hours.[14] Several attempts were made at rescue the next morning and a boat tethered to the Goat Island[b] bridge was guided downstream to reach Avery. He was able to climb onto the boat, but it immediately capsized throwing Avery back into the water before he went over the falls. A daguerreotype of Avery holding onto the tree was made by Platt D. Babbitt.[16][17][18] William Dean Howells eulogized Avery's death in a poem, which concluded with the lines "Caught in the long-baffled clutch of the rapids, and rolled and hurled; headlong on to the cataract's brink, and out of the world".[15][19] At times following Avery's death, the rock from which he clung became known as "Avery's Rock".[15]
Unnamed Fatality
Unnamed Fatality
October 24, 1901 Annie Edson Taylor Survival Horseshoe Falls[20] Having successfully sent a cat over the falls in a barrel two days previously, Taylor became the first person to survive going over the falls when she did so in an oak barrel as a stunt designed to help her financially. She was unharmed, but exited the barrel bleeding.[1]
July 2, 1903 Ed Delahanty Fatality Horseshoe Falls[21] Delahanty, a baseball player, was swept over the falls having fallen from the International Railway Bridge; he had 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.[6]
July 25, 1911 Bobby Leach Survival Horseshoe Falls[22] Leach, who had performed with Barnum & Bailey Circus,[23] went over the falls in a metal barrel and subsequently spent six months in hospital recovering from two broken knee caps and a fractured jaw.[1]
July 11, 1920 Charles Stephens Fatality Horseshoe Falls[24] Stephens, from Bristol in the UK, went over the falls in a barrel. Both Bobby Leach (q.v) 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.[2]
July 4, 1928 Jean Lussier Survival Horseshoe Falls[25] Lussier survived going over the falls in a large ball with a spring steel frame and a rubber covering.[3]
July 4, 1930 George Stathakis Fatality Horseshoe Falls[26] 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.[27] Stathakis took the plunge with his pet turtle, which was said to be around 150 years old. The turtle survived the ordeal.[28]
August 5, 1951 William "Red" Hill, Jr. Fatality Horseshoe Falls[7] Hill, the 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. Following Hill's death, Canadian and American authorities banned public stunts at the falls and began to issue fines for people making attempts over the falls.[8]
July 9, 1960 Roger Woodward Survival Horseshoe Falls[29] Seven-year-old Roger Woodward was swept over the falls. Woodward and his sister Deanne were in a 12-foot (3.7 m) aluminium fishing boat helmed by their family friend, James Honeycutt. Honeycutt lost use of the boat's propeller some 1.8 kilometres (1.1 mi) from the falls.[29] The boat subsequently capsized in the rapids. Deanne was pulled from the river just 20 feet (6.1 m) from the brink of the falls, but Roger and Honeycutt were taken over the falls.[10][30] Roger, who was wearing a lifejacket and remained buoyant, was rescued by the Maid of the Mist at the bottom of the falls; Honeycutt died.[30]
James Honeycutt Fatality
July 15, 1961 Nathan Boya Survival Horseshoe Falls[31] Boya (born 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.[32] Boya had launched from the American shore which would normally have resulted in him going over the American Falls, however a current took him closer to the Canadian shore.[31]
August 29, 1981 Hesham Sayegh Fatality Horseshoe Falls[33] Dunia Sayegh, a 27-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, whereupon he was quickly swept over the falls. The boy's body was never found. Sayegh was arrested and charged with second-degree murder;[34][35][36] the charges were dismissed.[37]
July 3, 1984 Karel Soucek Survival Horseshoe Falls[38] Soucek went over the falls in a barrel; he emerged with only minor injuries to his face that had been caused by his wristwatch on impact with the water.[4] 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.[4]
August 18, 1985 Steve Trotter Survival Horseshoe Falls[39] Trotter went over the falls in a barrel. It was his second attempt—his first, in November 1984, had been foiled by the police.[5]
October 5, 1985 David Munday Survival Horseshoe Falls[40] Munday successfully went over the falls in a barrel, having already had an attempt foiled when the International Control Dam reduced the river depth and grounded Munday's barrel.[40] Munday made two further attempts to go over the falls, with one in 1990 failing when the barrel lodged at the top of the falls.[41]
September 28, 1989 Peter De Bernardi Survival Horseshoe Falls[42] De Bernardi and Petkovich went over the falls in a reinforced barrel; their stunt was to draw attention to an anti-drugs campaign.[1][43] Approximately one year later, De Bernardi and Petkovich had another attempt foiled by authorities.
Jeffery James Petkovich Survival
June 5, 1990 Jessie Sharp Fatality Horseshoe Falls[44] Sharp went over the falls in a whitewater canoe. He had intended to continue paddling on the river after the fall, and had a dinner reservation 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.[45]
September 26, 1993 David Munday Survival Horseshoe Falls[40] Munday's second successful attempt at going over the falls (his first was on October 5, 1985).[41]
June 18, 1995 Steve Trotter Survival Horseshoe Falls[39] Trotter's second successful attempt at going over the falls (his first was on August 18, 1985) and Martin's first.[5]
Lori Martin Survival
October 1, 1995 Robert Overacker Fatality Horseshoe Falls[46] Overacker went over the falls on a personal watercraft to raise awareness for the homeless. His rocket-propelled parachute failed to open and he fell to his death. Overacker's body was recovered the next day and he was pronounced dead at Niagara General Hospital.[47][48]
October 22, 2003 Kirk Jones Survival Horseshoe Falls[49] Jones went over the falls and 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 CAD and banned for life from entering Canada.[1] He has said that his going over the falls was a suicide attempt rather than a stunt.[17] Jones made a fatal attempt at going over the falls on April 19, 2017.
March 10, 2009 Unnamed Survival Horseshoe Falls[50] An unnamed 30-year-old Canadian man survived a suicide attempted over the falls.[11] In the attempt, his clothes were ripped from his body and he suffered a head laceration as well as cold shock, later developing hypothermia.[10][50]
August 14, 2011 Ayano Tokumasu Fatality Horseshoe Falls[51] Tokumasu, a 19-year-old Japanese exchange student, was swept over the falls.[52] Niagara Parks Police surveillance cameras show her 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.[53][54][55] Her body was recovered on August 18.[56]
May 21, 2012 Unnamed Survival Horseshoe Falls[57] An unnamed man in his early 40s became the fourth person[11] 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 was reported to have suffered life-changing injuries,[57] later specified as broken ribs, a collapsed lung and lacerations.[58]
April 19, 2017 Kirk Jones Fatality American Falls[59] Jones, who went over the falls unprotected on October 22, 2003, made an attempt within an inflatable ball. The ball had been seen spinning in the rapids above the American Falls on April 19 and later went over the falls.[59] Jones died in the attempt; the empty ball was picked up by the Maid of the Mist, and Jones's body was recovered near Lake Ontario on June 2.[49][60]
July 8, 2019 Unnamed Survival Horseshoe Falls[61] At roughly 4 a.m., officers responded to a report of a person in crisis at the brink of the Canadian side of the falls. Once officers got to the scene, the man climbed the retaining wall, jumped into the river and went over the Horseshoe Falls. Authorities subsequently began to search the lower Niagara River basin, where the man was found sitting on the rocks at the water's edge.[61]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Other accounts name the individual as Sam Avery
  2. ^ Then known as Bath Island[15]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]