Woman on homemade raft wielding two knives rescued from Niagara River

Lewiston

LEWISTON, N.Y. (WIVB) — A 54-year-old woman from the United States was rescued from the lower Niagara River Sunday morning after she refused help by the Coast Guard, threatening to kill anyone that approached her, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Around 4:30 a.m. the Coast Guard and several agencies responded to a report of a woman on a homemade raft in the Niagara River near the Lewiston landing.

Authorities say Border Patrol Agents “maneuvered to initiate a rescue due to the freezing water and air temperatures after they discovered the woman located only 50 yards from the shore.” The woman refused to return to shore, despite numerous requests.

The Coast Guard began a water rescue, however, the woman paddled away. We’re told the river current and wake of the Coast Guard boat pushed the woman close to shore where agents attempted to reel her in.

CBP says agents backed away from the woman when she revealed a knife, threatening to kill anyone who approached her. A second attempt to bring her to shore was made, this time she brought out two knives and made verbal threats.

She was eventually brought to shore using a fishing net pole to knock the knives out of her hands. The woman was transported to Mount Saint Mary’s Hospital by ambulance exhibiting signs of hypothermia, CBP said.

“The heroic actions of agents and officers to save this woman’s life is amazing.

They risked their lives to help a distraught woman in very dangerous conditions, but this is what law enforcement does every day.”

Brady Waikel, Patrol Agent in Charge

Lewiston Police, Niagara County Sheriff’s Deputies and local firefighters also assisted at the scene.

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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