Woman, 66 dies after being stuck in freezing waters just yards from edge of NIAGARA FALLS for two hours after car crashes off road
- The Coast Guard pulled the body of a 66-year-old woman from her car as it teetered near the edge of Niagara Falls on the United States side Wednesday afternoon
- Videos posted to social media documented the horrifying moment after the woman was stuck in her car about 50 yards from the brink of the Falls for about two hours as snow fell
- When rescue crews arrived on the scene at around 1pm, they did not see the woman moving
- The car entered the river between a vehicle and pedestrian bridge to Goat Island in New York
- It remains unclear whether the driver entered the water intentionally or accidentally
- The car became stuck on rocks near the edge, and photos and videos posted to social media showed the black sedan almost completely submerged
- Authorities remained on the scene as of Wednesday evening, as they attempted to retrieve the car
By Melissa Koenig For Dailymail.Com
Published: | Updated:
A Coast Guard diver was lowered down from a helicopter in a heroic attempt to rescue a driver stuck in a car teetering near the edge of Niagara Falls on Wednesday – only to discover that she was already dead.
Videos posted to Twitter documented the horrifying moment Wednesday afternoon, after the 66-year-old woman was stuck in the car about 50 yards from the brink of the Falls for about two hours in freezing temperatures and snowfall. It was located on the American side near Prospect Point, New York.
The woman was not moving when authorities arrived on the scene at around 1pm, officials said at a subsequent news conference.
A member of the Coast Guard was able to descend from a helicopter just south of the vehicle on a wire, break down the motorists passenger-side door with an ax and grab the lifeless body from the car, lifting it up into the helicopter.
Her death was later confirmed by the United States Coast Guard Great Lakes.
Park Police told WHAM that the victim was a local 66-year-old female. It remains unclear whether she drove into the icy water from the bridge near Goat Island accidentally or intentionally.
As of 2pm, crews were working to retrieve the vehicle from the Falls, but said they ‘do not believe there is any evidentiary value to the car.’
The Coast Guard diver was lowered down to the black sedan as waves washed over its windshield
The US Coast Guard rescue driver removed the passenger from the car on the brink of the Falls and airlifted the body
Rescue crews arrived on the scene quickly to assess the situation after a car fell into Niagara River on Wednesday afternoon and quickly approached the Falls
The car was just 100 feet from tumbling over Niagara Falls on Wednesday afternoon when the driver was pulled from the car by a member of the Coast Guard
A member of the Coast Guard prepared to descend into the river in an attempt to free the trapped motorist
The 66-year-old woman was already dead by the time the Coast Guard crew was able to get her from the car
State Park police said in a news conference following the incident that witnesses reported seeing the car drive into the water between the pedestrian and vehicle bridge at Goat Island moments before they received calls at around noon about a car floating down the river and getting stuck on some rocks.
‘There were tire tracks right off the trolley path into the upper rapids,’ one witness, only identified as Michael, told KCBS. ‘Obviously the car floated to there.’
When authorities arrived, they found the river water washing over the top of the windshield, with the current reaching to the bottom of vehicle’s side windows.
Photos and videos taken by bystanders showed the car almost completely submerged with only part of the roof and an open trunk hatch visible through the whitewater in the early afternoon, as roads remained slippery due to the snowy conditions, with temperatures in the high 20s.
Captain Chris Rola said crews quickly determined that, based on where the car wound up, a swift water rescue team would not be able to attempt a rescue, noting: ‘We’ve never had a vehicle in the water this close to the brink.’
‘There is inherent danger,’ Rola told WGRZ. ‘And all the Park Police members have some swift water training. Then we have specialists with the Swift Water Rescue Team of seven better-trained individuals to a higher level.’
He added that while they were waiting for the Coast Guard helicopter to arrive, the Park Police used a drone to see how many people were in the vehicle and tried to get a license plate number. They discovered she was the only one in the car at the time, and believe she had been driving the vehicle when it fell into the water.
Then as the Coast Guard began their attempted rescue, the Niagara-Gazette reports, the New York Power Authority decreased water flow on the Falls in an effort to help the rescue efforts.
Rola would not release the name of the victim Wednesday afternoon, until her family was notified of her passing.
The incident remains under investigation by the New York State Park Police.
Photos from the incident show the black sedan almost completely submerged just 50 yards from the edge
Rescue workers on the scene determined that it was too close to the edge for a a swift water rescue to attempt a rescue
Officials used a drone to determine how many people were in the car, and attempt to get a license plate number
The car reportedly entered the water near the bridge to Goat Island from the mainland (pictured)
The victim’s death was confirmed by the US Coast Guard of the Great Lakes Wednesday afternoon
Dozens of police officers and firefighters remained on the scene Wednesday afternoon, including a Niagara County sheriff’s helicopter.
At one point, Syracuse.com reports, a state parks officer was seen putting on diving gear, as the area remain roped off.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted her appreciation for the rescue teams Wednesday afternoon, noting that she was ‘saddened by the tragic loss of life.’