High water levels may be reason man survived plunge over Niagara Falls


BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) The equivalent of a million bathtubs of water goes over Niagara Falls each minute. The fact that nearly twice the normal amount of water was going over Tuesday morning may be part of the reason a distraught man survived his plunge over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.

“He was lucky,” said James Diodati, mayor of Niagara Falls, Ontario. “Fate would have it, we’ve had high lake levels, as a matter of fact, record high levels, so much so that with more water from Lake Erie going over the Niagara Falls into Lake Ontario, he was able to miss some of the rocks below that would’ve surely killed him.”

Mayor Diodati does not think police should fine or charge the man in crisis. “We know one in five people suffer from mental health issues and we’ve shattered the stigma,” said Diodati. “Hopefully this will be an example that we can reach out to anyone with any kind of issue. This person’s been given a second chance on life, hopefully they get the help that they need and do something meaningful with the rest of their life.”

On both sides of the Falls, there are emergency phones. All someone has to do is pick up the receiver, and within seconds, that person will be connected to a crisis counselor.

Niagara County Crisis Services takes several calls each year from the five phones on the American side, according to Captain Christopher Rola, New York State Park Police Division . “They are used for legitimate purposes and we have been able to save people’s lives that have been in a time of crisis.”

Sometimes it’s careless mistakes that can sweep someone over the falls. On Saturday night, witness saw a man go over the American Falls. It may be the same man whose family reported him missing two hours later. They told police he had separated from them to go take photos.

He has not been seen in the past four days, according to Captain Rola. “As of this morning (Wednesday), we haven’t found him. We’ve asked our partners to reach out to New York State Police yesterday. They flew their helicopter through the gorge in the Falls area to help use take a look and to see if they could assist, and we have our patrols out looking daily.”

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