Canadian survives plunge down Niagara Falls (Lead)

March 12th, 2009 - 4:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, March 12 (IANS) An unnamed Canadian man survived a fall down the Niagara Falls Tuesday - the second time in history that anyone stayed alive after an unprotected plunge down the 173-metre-deep falls.
In October 2003, American Kirk Jones created history by becoming the first person to survive an unassisted drop down the Niagara Falls.

The Canadian in his 30s survived the plunge down Horseshoe Falls, which is the Canadian part of Niagara Falls.

Visitors were shocked when a little after 2 p.m. they saw a man rolling in the rapids of the Niagara river just before the falls. Then he went down - 56 metres with the waters and then 120 metres into the Niagara Falls base - to pop up some time later in the river below. With his clothes torn off during the plunge, the man tried to swim to safety in frigid cold waters.

An eyewitness told Canada’s CTV: “I was on the very edge of the Canadian side and he was right next to shore, like a metre away from it, and he just went overboard. He wasn’t resisting it at all.”

Another Canadian witness who managed to take some pictures of the struggling man said: “He was swimming and he kept swimming away from shore, so it looked like he was either being a daredevil or there was some other problem.”

Police and fire brigade teams swung into action to pull the man out of the river.

The man, who reportedly suffered head injuries, was finally lifted out of water 45 minutes later and rushed to the Greater Niagara Hospital.

Niagara Falls fire department chief said: “We are amazed he stayed up as long as he did.”

If the man survives, he will face criminal charges because it is illegal in Canada - and the US - to jump into the falls.

Jones, the unemployed Michigan man who was the first to survive an unprotected fall, was fined $3,000 and ordered to pay $1,400 for rescue efforts to save him. He was later hired by a Texas circus company to perform stunts.

Annie Edson Taylor, a 62-year-old Michigan teacher, was the first person to survive a protected fall when she plummeted down the Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel in October 1901.

Since then, many people have tried protected as well as unprotected falls and perished.

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