N.Y. first responders rescue boy, 5, but mother dies after 90-foot fall into Niagara Gorge

Mercy Flight EMS providers transported the injured child to Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo

By Harold Mcneil
The Buffalo News, N.Y.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — A 5-year-old was rescued Monday after he and his mother jumped into the Niagara Gorge in Niagara Falls State Park.

Authorities have recovered the mother's body, Angela P. Berti, a Niagara Region parks spokeswoman, said in a press conference just after 4 p.m.

"Unfortunately, the female did not make it," State Parks Police Capt. Chris Rola said. He added that a state police helicopter was flying her body from the state park to the coroner's office.

"The investigation is ongoing, but we don't believe it is an accident," Rola said.

Rola said the woman and child had been with her husband at the park before they fell into the gorge. He said that police do not yet know what prior event might have sparked the incident. Police were interviewing the husband, along with other witnesses who were in the park. Rola declined to provide the identities of the woman and child or say where they were from.

He did, however, describe the daring rescue of the boy.

Rola said the victims fell about 90 feet, which was not quite to the bottom of the gorge.

He said Niagara Falls firefighters walked across the ice on the bottom of the gorge to reach the boy and his mother.

"Our rescuers, along with Niagara Falls Fire Department, were able to reach pretty quickly both of the victims," Rola said.

"Although today it's nice out, it's very icy down there. It's real tough terrain that our guy and our girls were able to get through and get to them and provide that life-saving care and do everything they could but, as far as putting other people at risk, we were going to make every effort for that child that was still alive at the time," he added.

The boy was loaded on a stretcher and brought up the Cave of the Winds elevator to a waiting Mercy Flight helicopter shortly after 2 p.m. He was flown to Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo.

Rola said the child suffered a head injury.

The area around the Cave of the Winds attraction was roped off by police while the rescue was ongoing.

"Niagara Falls is a tough place to perform rescues," Rola said.

"The State Parks Police, we have a swift water rescue team. We have high angle rope rescue guys that train all the time. Niagara Falls Fire is great. They're excellent with rope rescue, too. As you can see, the State Police are a great partner with us and their aviation is top-notch," he added.


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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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