LEWISTON, N.Y. (WIVB)– A boat taking tourists on the Niagara River became a life-saving vessel for a man who fell off his jet ski Monday.
Officials at Niagara Jet Adventures tell us they found a jet ski without a person on it near the Niagara Power Project around 5 p.m.
Down the river, near the Lewiston-Queenston bridge, they located the man who had been on the jet ski and were able to save him.
“I think if we had been one or two minutes later, this wouldn’t have a happy ending,” said boat captain, Lloyd Schrack, who noticed an overturned jet ski near the power intakes in the Lower Niagara River near Lewiston. “I drove around that jet ski three times just hoping to see a hand hanging.”
There was no one around it, but moments later, downstream, Lloyd finally spotted the hand of a 40 year old Rochester man struggling to stay afloat. He and his crew mate, boat briefer, Selina Iozzo, kicked into Man overboard training, which they practice every month. She ventured out onto the boat’s platform and asked a customer to hold onto her so she could reach the man with a rescue hook.
“He grabbed the hook and he came onto the boat.. he actually pushed himself onto the boat, but the second he was on board, he became a limp noodle and I just think that was the last bit of adrenaline he had in him to save his own life.”
The man had already been in the water for ten to fifteen minutes and because he was wearing an older life vest, it was absorbing water and actually pulling him under the strong current, according to Iozzo. “He did say he was 15 feet under water or so he thought and he was swimming down up, he didn’t know which was was up so he was just kind of kicking and swimming and he said he had no more breath left in him, so he said in his head, ‘Please God, don’t let me die today. I’m getting married next year.’ and he said a second later, he found air and he kept fighting.”
What caused the man to fall off his jet ski in the first place was that he cut the motor attempting to take a selfie while on the dangerous water.
One of the people working on the boat tells us that people often underestimate the power of the mighty Niagara.
“When we saw that jet ski, you think “this is it”. And oftentimes when you retrieve a body from the Niagara River it’s very rare the person is alive and conscious. These waters are no joke. People that aren’t from around here don’t understand the power of the Niagara River,” Iozzo said.
Officials with Niagara Jet Adventures say he was uninjured but was in shock when they found him.