(CBS/AP) BUFFALO, N.Y. - A man plunged at least 180 feet over Niagara Falls and survived, becoming only the fourth person known to have gone over without a safety device and live.
Niagara Parks Police say witnesses reported seeing the man climb over a railing at 10:20 a.m. Monday and "deliberately jump" into the Niagara River 20 to 30 feet above the Horseshoe Falls. Authorities believe it was a failed suicide attempt, according to CBS affiliate WIVB in Buffalo, N.Y. The subject was seen going over the Horseshoe Falls before he surfaced in the lower Niagara River basin near the Journey Behind the Falls observation platform.
Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side of the river, is the tallest of the three main falls, higher than the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
The man, believed to be in his early 40s, was rescued about two hours after he collapsed in waist-deep water near the rocky shore. A waiting helicopter flew him to a hospital for treatment of what police said were life-threatening injuries. WIVB said the man was treated for hypothermia and a severe wound on his head. He was described as "stunned." Police did not identify him.
Since 1901, when Annie Edison Taylor was the first person known to go over the falls and live, 17 others have replicated the feat, most by using safety devices like Taylor's oak barrel or the foamed-lined pickle barrel and inner tube contraption Steve Trotter used to go over in 1985.
The last person to go over the Falls unaided and survive was a 30-year-old Canadian man in March 2009. The helicopter used its blades to blow the subject closer to shore, WIVB reported.
In October 2003, Kirk Jones, an out-of-work auto parts salesman from Michigan survived his plunge over the falls and, in 1960, 7-year-old Roger Woodward was swept over the falls wearing a life jacket and survived.