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Update on incident at Niagara Falls State Park


Thu, Dec 9th 2021 02:05 pm

A vehicle went into Niagara Falls on Wednesday, resulting in the death of a female driver.

The New York State Park Police submitted the following press release on Thursday:

As of this morning, the black sedan that entered the Niagara River yesterday remains in the water.

The Niagara Falls State Park Operations Team is meeting today to determine how the car can be removed.

The New York State Park Police investigation into yesterday’s incident of the vehicle entering the Niagara River is still ongoing. At this point in the investigation, entry into the water appears to be an intentional act. However, cause and manner of death is still yet to be determined through autopsy. At this time, the victim has not been positively identified through the medical examiner or corner offices.

The investigation is continuing. No additional information is available at this time.

At 11:50 a.m. Dec. 8, New York State Park Police were notified of a black vehicle in the water approximately 50 yards from the brink of the American Falls. Park Police responded and assessed the situation with Niagara Falls Fire Department, New York State Police, New York State Fire, Niagara County Emergency Management, AMR Ambulance and the New York State Power Authority.

The water levels were lowered by the Power Authority, drones and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office helicopter were used to determine any vehicle occupants. One body was observed in the driver seat.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter assisted and recovered a woman in her late 60s from the Western New York area. She was pronounced dead on the scene.

PBA of New York State Praises State Park Police’s Leadership in Daring Niagara Falls Rescue

‘More than a century of patrolling Niagara Falls make the New York State Park Police a critical resource during dangerous rescues and recoveries’

The PBA of New York State praised what it called the “selfless, dangerous and heroic efforts of the myriad of agencies that responded to the report of a vehicle in the water at Niagara Falls on Wednesday, Dec. 8.”

PBA also said: While the recovery eventually ended in a daring helicopter deployment of a rescue swimmer from the U.S. Coast Guard, it began with an emergency call to the New York State Park Police – New York’s oldest state law enforcement agency created nearly 150 years ago to patrol Niagara Falls and protect visitors to one of the great wonders of the world.

At approximately 11:50 a.m., a call was received of a vehicle in the water 75 yards from the brink of the falls. The New York State Park Police immediately dispatched its swiftwater rescue team to the scene, who were joined by elements of the Niagara Falls Fire Department along with approximately 10 members of a State Park Police rope rescue team from Genesee State Park who were in the area training. All State Park Police are trained in rope and swiftwater rescue, but teams of highly trained officers are tasked with more advanced rescues and responding to natural disasters including flooding and extreme weather events.

It was determined that a land-based rescue was not tenable for safety concerns as the requirement for two points of contact for rescuers was not possible. Subsequently, a request for air assets was put out to the U.S. Coast Guard station in Detroit, Canadian Coast Guard and local law enforcement aviation units. The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard units arrived on scene at the same time with the U.S. Coast Guard taking the lead and deploying a highly trained rescue swimmer who was able to recover the body of a woman in her 60 who, unfortunately, succumbed to her injuries and/or the elements.

Prior to the attempted rescue/recovery operation, the New York State Park Police requested that power authorities on both the American and Canadian sides of the falls take on extra water to reduce the surge and lower water levels – reducing the risk to rescuers from turbulent waters and decreasing the chance the vehicle or rescuers would be swept down the falls, which were less than a football field away. This request by the State Park Police also allowed for reconnaissance by drone prior to the attempted recovery, and framed the operation by detailing the number of occupants in the vehicle as well as any signs of life.

PBA of New York State President Manny Vilar, also Park Police sergeants director, stated, “As president of the union representing our State Park Police, and a Park Police sergeant myself, I could not be prouder of the professionalism and selflessness displayed by every first responder on the scene – but particularly the 20 State Park Police officers who were the first to respond. Our mission is unique, as is our training. The beauty of Niagara Falls is second to none, and so is the danger from 750,000 gallons of water going over the falls each second. We are saddened by the loss of life yesterday, but remain committed to protecting every visitor during their time at the falls, and promoting and preserving this tremendous natural resource.”

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