Early Tuesday morning, the Niagara Parks Police responded to what appeared to be a tragic incident at Niagara Falls: A man attempting to commit suicide by jumping into the river and going over the falls. But the situation quickly turned from tragic to miraculous, as the man (his identity has not been released) survived after he was swept into the raging water and plunged 188 feet, The Buffalo News reports.
According to a statement from Ontario’s Niagara Parks Police, at about 4 a.m. Tuesday officers responded to a man “in crisis” who climbed over the retaining wall near Horseshoe Falls, the tallest of the three cascades at Niagara. Officers couldn’t reach him before he entered the water, but they later found him “sitting on the rocks” on the riverbank below the falls. He was transported to the hospital but sustained only minor injuries.
The man is just the fifth person since 1960 to survive plunging over the falls without protective equipment, according to The Buffalo News. Rapids in the Niagara River can reach speeds of 68 miles per hour, and the water at the base of the falls is 100 feet deep. Unusually high water levels in the river may have protected the man from the dangerous rocks at the bottom of the falls.
“The only way you would ever have a chance to survive that kind of a fall was to overshoot the large rocks below,” Mayor Jim Diodati of Niagara Falls, Ontario told the News.
Remarkably, the incident occurred on the 59th anniversary of another Niagara Falls survival story. On July 9, 1960, a seven-year-old boy survived going over the falls in just a lifejacket after a boating accident on the upper Niagara River.