One of the most recent and probably the most shocking trip over the Falls was on October 3, 2003. Kirk Jones' plan didn't involve a barrel. It didn't even involve a life preserver. He simply climbed under the barrier and entered the river in his clothes. He floated down on his back and went over with no protection whatsoever.
Miraculously, he survived, uninjured except for sore ribs. He said it was like being "in a giant tunnel going straight down, surrounded by water." (At least two more have done the same in the years since, one in 2009 and the other in 2012.)
There are those who believe that Jones was depressed and that he jumped in with the intent to kill himself. Other reports say that Kirk had spoken about going over the Falls for years, saying that he thought there was a spot where you could go over and survive. Jones himself has never fully cleared up the rumors.
Witnesses say that after going over the Falls, he swam to some rocks -- having declined an offer of help from a tour boat -- and climbed out of the Niagara on his own.
While Kirk wasn't the first person to go over the Falls and survive without any protection, he was the first to go over on purpose that way. The first person to survive going over the Falls without gear was a seven-year-old boy named Roger Woodward, who was in a boat that capsized in 1960. His 17-year-old sister was pulled ashore to safety at the very edge of the Falls, the man driving the boat went over and was killed. But a surprised group of Maid of the Mist tourists found the boy alive at the bottom of the Falls. Roger Woodward had survived the drop.
After his stunt, Kirk Jones was offered a position with a Texas circus as a "the world's greatest stuntman," making lots of money talking about his triumphant trip over Niagara Falls with nothing except his clothes as protection.
For more information on Niagara daredevils and other crazy stuff, check out the links below.
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More Great Links
- Daring Woman Over Niagara Falls in Barrel, The Virginian-Pilot, 1903
- Fall Fan: Niagara Falls Daredevils
- Niagara Falls Canada
- OutdoorPlaces.com: Niagara Falls
- PersonalTours Canada: Niagra Falls Facts and Information
- Daredevils of Niagara Falls: A History
- Niagara Falls Live: Daredevils of Niagara Falls
- Thunder Alley: Niagara Falls - Daredevils