2012: A Canadian man, motives still unknown, plunged headfirst into the icy depths of Niagara Falls and became one of the lucky few who lived to tell the tale:
The man, who has not been identified, climbed over a retaining wall above the Canadian Horseshoe Falls before jumping into the Niagara River and being swept over the falls, according to a report from CNN affiliate CTV.
"I first looked at him, it was quite apparent that he was in a state not only of shock, hypothermia had probably started to set in,” Sgt. Chris Gallagher of the Niagara Falls Parks Police told WGRZ.
“He just happened to come down the river into an eddy, and that enabled him to get out. If he had been in the main current, he wouldn't have survived,” Niagara Falls, Ontatrio, Fire Department platoon chief Dan Orescanin told the News.
“There are odds that you will survive, but they're so minuscule that it's impossible to comprehend,” historian Paul Gromosiak told the News.
1901: New York widow Anna Edson Taylor, at 63, became the first woman to successfully ride the falls in a barrel, choosing as her companions a heart-shaped pillow and a small kitten. Mrs. Taylor spent the remainder of her years trying to capitalize on her voyage, posing with her famous barrel at state fairs across America. A breathless New York Times recounted her adventure:
A widowed woman, Mrs. Anna Edson Taylor, safely passed over Niagara Falls in a barrel this afternoon. The trip from end to end was witnessed by several thousand people.
It was beyond any conception but her own that she would live to tell the story. But she is alive to-night, and the doctors say as soon as she gets over the shock she will be all right. The initial voyage over Niagara’s cataract began at Port Day, nearly a mile from the brink of the Falls. From Port Day Mrs. Taylor and her barrel were taken out to Grass Island, where she entered the barrel, and at 3:50 she was in tow of a boat speeding well out into the Canadian current. At 4:05 the barrel was set adrift, and Mrs. Taylor was at the mercy of currents in waters that never before have known to spare a human life once in its grasp.
She is suffering greatly from the shock. She has a three-inch cut in her scalp back of the right ear, but how or when she got it she does not know. She complains of pain between the shoulders, but this is thought to be from the fact that her shoulders were thrown back during the plunge as she had her arms in straps and these undoubtedly saved her neck from breaking.
In passing over the falls she admits having lost consciousness. While thanking God for sparing her life, she warns everybody against trying to make the trip. So severe was the shock that she wanders in her talk, but there is little doubt that she will be in good condition within a day or two.
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