A Timeline of Tragedy at Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a quintessentially North American phenomenon. Situated at the border between America and Canada, the roaring force of nature has captured the imagination of those who visit for centuries. Actually a collection of three falls, they are dramatic but can bring the reckless side out of tourists and daredevils.

The latest victim went over Sunday, when a 19-year-old student visiting from Toronto lost her footing while climbing on a safety railing, plunged to the water below, then was swept over the falls. Following is a timeline of some of the other tragic events linked to the famous tourist destination.

July 16, 1853

Samuel Avery and two other men were working on a dredging barge and going to shore in a rowboat when it capsized. The other two men were swept away but Avery managed to grab some tree roots and hold on. He was there all night, and the next morning was discovered. A boat tethered upstream was sent to rescue him. He used his last strength to climb in when it capsized as well. He threw his arms up in surrender and went over.

Sept. 6, 1901

Although the tragedy happened later in the day in Buffalo, New York, President William McKinley visited Niagara Falls the morning of the day he was assassinated.

Feb. 4, 1912

The Great Ice Bridge disaster took place. Tourists frequently went out on the ice bridge which formed in the winter, but a collapse in 1912 sent three people to their deaths.

July 11, 1920

English daredevil Charles G. Stevens went over in a barrel which he had equipped with a metal anvil for ballast that he also tied himself to. When the barrel was found, all that remained of Stevens was his arm, still attached to the anvil.

July 5, 1930

George L. Statakis, a Greek waiter, died from suffocation when the barrel he went over the falls in was trapped behind the falls for more than 14 hours.

July 9, 1960

Roger Woodward, a 7-year-old boy, became the first person to survive a drop over the falls without a barrel. He was on an upriver boat ride with his 17-year-old sister and family friend James Honyecutt. The boat malfunctioned and was swept downstream, capsizing near the falls. Roger’s sister Deanne was rescued by people on shore, but the other two went over. Honeycutt held the boy in his arms as they plunged down the falls. His heroism saved Roger, but he died in the process.

Sept. 29, 1992

Four people were killed as two sightseeing helicopters collided in mid-air just west of Horseshoe Falls.

June 1, 2011

Another recent incident in which a woman plunged over the falls. According to CNN, a boat was sent off from the Maid of the Mist, the tourist boat that takes passengers to the bottom of the falls, but they were unable to rescue her.

That’s just a partial listing of the lives claimed at Niagara Falls. Additionally, around 20-25 people each year commit suicide by jumping into the falls.

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