Today’s Illustration: A Point Of No Return . . . .

point of no return  This may be the point of no return. Turn back.

Today In History:  July 9, 1960 — Three people were swept by the strong currents of the Niagara River and were carried over Niagara Falls.

Jim Honeycutt and two children from the neighborhood, Roger & Deanne, went boating on the Niagara River when the boats motor quite.  Honeycutt gave the only spare life jacket to Deanne, Roger had the only other one on.  Only the two children survived and lived to tell about it.

The blazing July sun reflected brightly off the deep waters of the upper Niagara River as Roger Woodward stepped into a boat for the first time in his life.

The blond, blue-eyed 7-year-old [Roger] had just moved with his family to Niagara Falls, N.Y., and was celebrating his sister Deanne’s recent 17th birthday with a tour on the nearby river, thanks to family friend Jim Honeycutt.

The only condition, set by Woodward’s mother as she sent him out the door, was that Roger wear a lifejacket.  Her youngest didn’t know how to swim.


The Facts & History:

Niagara is located on the Niagara River

Composed of three falls: Horseshoe, American, & Bridal Veil

The three falls compose the highest water flow rate of any waterway in North America.

The Horseshoe Fall has a 165-foot drop.

500,000 – 750,000 gallons of water per second flow over the Horseshoe Falls – depending on the season and flow of the Niagara River.

150,000 gallons of water per second flow over the American and Bridal Veil Falls, depending on the season and flow of the Niagara River.

540 million gallons an hour flow over the Horseshoe Falls.

The depth of the water at the rim of the falls is approximately 2 feet.

The deepest place in the Niagara River is just below the falls — 170 feet deep.

Niagara Falls accounts for 20-25 suicides a year.

Eleven people have gone over the falls and survived (not counting daredevils who went over the falls intentionally and assisted by some form of protection).  Five of the eleven died later in the hospital.

Daredevils Of Niagara:

October 24, 1901 — Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

July 25, 1911 — Bobby Leach, a stunt man, went over Niagara falls in a barrel in 1912.  He broke both his legs and his jaw, but he did survive.

July 11, 1920 — “Englishman Charles G. Stephens equipped his wooden barrel with an anvil for ballast. Charles tied himself to the anvil for security. After the plunge, Chuck’s right arm was the only item left in the barrel.”

July 4, 1928  — “Smiling Jean” Lussier went over the fall in a large rubber ball and survived.

June 30, 1961 — Nathan Boya also went over the falls in a ball like structure and survived.

July 3, 1984 — The first Canadian, Karel Soucek, went over and survived.

August 18t 1985 — Steven Trotter, an American,(a Rhode Island bartender) went over the falls in a barrel wrapped around with inner tubes.

October 5, 1985 — John “Super Dave” Munday went over in his metal barrel and did it a second time on September 26th, 1993.  Munday was a Canadian mechanic.

June 18, 1995 — A duo of Steven Trotter and Lori Martin went over together in a metal barrel and survived.

October 1, 1995 — “Robert Overcracker rides a jetski over the brink of the Horseshoe Falls to help promote awareness for the homeless. His parachute did not open, and Robert ended up promoting better parachutes. He plunged to his death and his body was never recovered.”

robert-overcracker niagara fallsPicture was taken by an Egyptian tourist

October 22, 2003 — “Kirk Jones from Canton Michigan becomes first stunter in the history of Niagara Falls to survive the plunge wearing only the clothes on his back.”

Blondin: First Tightrope Walker Ove Niagara — Summer 1859

Jean François Gravelet-Blondin, known as the “Great Blondin,” begins a famous series of tightrope walks across the Niagara gorge. The act draws crowds as large as 25,000 people. Blondin crosses in increasingly difficult ways, riding a bicycle, pushing a wheelbarrow and even with his hands and legs bound in chains. His most difficult crossing takes place on August 19, when he manages to carry his manager over the rope on his back.”


A True Story – 1960:  A young brother and sister faced a watery and frightening death as they passed the point of no return in a small aluminum rowboat on the great Niagara River.  This account involving Roger and Deanne Woodward reads as follows:

It was a warm Saturday morning when Jim Honeycutt took his neighbor’s children, Deanne and Roger Woodward, for a boat ride in the upper Niagara River. . . . Honeycutt piloted his small aluminum boat through the deceptively calm Grass Island Pool toward the rapids above the Falls.  Intent, perhaps, on giving the kids a good view of the rapids,  Honeycutt was soon past what experienced Niagara boaters call the point of no return.  Honeycutt sensed danger too late.  He turned the boat around, but a shear-pin failure disabled the motor and left the boat wallowing in the swift current.

In spite of Honeycutt’s frantic efforts with the oars, the boat was soon in the rapids.  Roger was already wearing a life jacket and Deanne quickly put her’s on.  Seconds later the light boat flipped end over end.  Honeycutt and Roger were shipped toward the brink of the Falls.  Deanne still clinging to the upturned boat, was carried into the shallow rapids near Goat Island. . . . Within a few feet of the brink of the Falls at  Terrapin Point, Deanne clutched at the hand of a rescuer who leaned far out over the protective railing. . . . She was dragged to safety just seconds before the river would have carried her to a savage death on the rocks below.  Roger, his small 55-pound body buoyed up by the life jacket, was swept over and outwards by the trajectory of the Falls.  Honeycutt disappeared in the three thousand tons of water that crash over the Horseshoe each second.  Moments later the captain of the Maid of the Mist could hardly believe his eyes when he saw an orange life jacket appear in the boiling white water at the base of the Falls.  A life belt was thrown and within minutes  Roger Woodward was safely aboard.  He was the first person to survive the Horseshoe Falls without a protective capsule.  His friend, Jim Honeycutt,  died in the maelstrom.  Four days later the river gave up his body. 1


Key Illustrative Thoughts:

A Point Of No Return
Ill-prepared to boat on the Niagara
What were you thinking?
It started out as a normal day!
Daredevils who purposefully risked their lives.
Risk Their Lives:  For What?
The power of vast moving waters & a falls
Even designed & created protections may not deliver.
The only condition was . . . . wear a lifejacket.
The engine failed!
Who plans on this happening?
The hand of a rescuer
Dragged to safety
Last act of heroism – gave up his lifevest
Died to let another live
I can get you over to the other side – Blondin
Turn Back!

Information & Links

1 “Niagara and the Daredevils

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