U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Niagara Falls Station, the U.S. Coast Guard and several local first responders rescued a 54-year-old U.S. citizen on the lower Niagara River.
At approximately 4:30 a.m. Sunday, Border Patrol agents responded to the lower Niagara River near the Lewiston Landing due to reports of a woman on a homemade raft. Officers from the Lewiston Police Department and Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, and local firefighters also responded to the scene to aid. Agents maneuvered to initiate a rescue due the freezing water and air temperatures after they discovered the woman located only 50 yards from the shore.
Agents from the shoreline then engaged in conversation with the woman and made multiple requests for her to return to the shore. The U.S. Coast Guard was notified after the woman ignored repeated requests and a water rescue may be required. The Coast Guard quickly responded and maneuvered its vessel near her to perform a water rescue, but she refused and paddled away. When the river current and Coast Guard vessel wake pushed her craft close to the shoreline, agents and officers attempted to rescue her, but backed away after she brandished a knife and threatened to kill anyone who approached her. Her craft again came close to the shoreline, but as agents and officers approached, she brandished two knives and again made verbal threats to harm anyone who approached her.
The woman was finally rescued from the homemade raft with the assistance of a LPD officer after an agent used a fishing net pole to knock the knives from her hands. She exhibited signs of hypothermia from extreme exposure and was immediately transported by Lewiston ambulance to Mount St. Mary’s Hospital.
“The heroic actions of agents and officers to save this woman’s life is amazing,” said Patrol Agent in Charge Brady Waikel of the Niagara Falls Border Patrol Station. “They risked their lives to help a distraught woman in very dangerous conditions, but this is what law enforcement does every day.”
The U.S. Border Patrol welcomes assistance from the community. Citizens can report suspicious activity and remain anonymous by calling 1-800-331-0353 toll free.