Niagara Daredevils

In this column, Cecil says that Robert Overacker went over the falls on a jet ski and that the “rocket-assisted parachute deployed at brink of falls as planned, but wasn’t tethered to his back.”

But the official Niagara Falls Web site says that poor ol’ Bob “attempted to discharge a rocket propelled parachute that was on his back. It failed to discharge.”

( )

I wonder who’s right.

Also, when I read about Jessie Sharp in the list in Cecil’s column I assumed that his death was accidental. (Cecil’s info is brief, just that ol’ Jesse was in a kayak and that his body was never found.)

Well, my Web search on this guy revealed that he did it on purpose! He was an unemployed stuntman trying to advance his career.

Didn’t work … (Darwin wins again!)

Cecil didn’t tell the full story about Bobby Leach. Yes he successfully “went over” the falls and died 11 years later in New Zealand slipping on an orange peel. However, he survived his orange peel predicament but he skinned his knee. This wound later became infected and still later gangrene set in which then killed him.
Still, you’ve got to admit if that isn’t the most ironic death, it has certainly got to be in the Top 5 of all time.
Incidentally, good article by Cecil.

About Overacker.

Contermporary newspaper articles available on ProQuest indicate that the parachute didn’t open. NOthing was mentioned about it not being strapped to his back. The parachute had to be opened manually, according to the articles. He had a rocket on his back! which was to lift him off the jetski, propel him into the air where he could open his chute.

He was doing the stunt to bring attention to the plight of the homeless. He had two relatives there, filming. The official autopsy said he drowned, meaning, I guess, that he survived the fall(amazing).

Okay, why the hell would Charles Stephens strap his feet to the anvil he was using for ballast? Did he even have time to reflect on the mistake he made?

Lemme think. Going into water. Bringing anvil. Hmmm. I know! I’ll tie it to my feet, so I won’t forget it!

Perhaps had he been slightly more stupid, he’d have tied it around his neck.

I’m just blown away by this.

Why is going over the falls illegal? I mean, who’s safety are you risking besides your own?

Well, assuming most people wouldn’t think of doing it if others hadn’t set an example for them, you may be risking the safety of future idiots, I mean imitators.

More to the point, there has to be a limit on what people are allowed to do on National Parkland.

How about the people in the tour boats below the falls.

I happen to agree, but in the current climate of reduced responsibility, someone will have to go in and save your sorry ass if something goes wrong. That is whose life you are risking.

For the same reason suicide is illegal?

Here’s a column about the grown-up Roger Woodward, who went over the Falls accidentally when he was 7 years old: Forty-Two Years of Borrowed Time, by Dennis Roddy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

A contemporary newspaper account said that the barrel was weighted so that when it hit the water, it would keep him in an upright position. No mention of it being an anvil strapped to his feet. And, believe me, the article went into incredible depth about the barrel and what the guy was gonna do.

He was a 58-year old barber from Bristol, England, with a wife and 9 kids. He had done daredevil things previously.

There is, a small museum on the US side of the falls dedicated to the people who attempted to go over the falls. They have some of the various “barrels” used in attempts. It’s called the “Daredevil Museum”, 303 Rainbow Blvd, Niagara Falls NY.

Also, to nitpick, these people went over Horseshoe Falls (the Canadian side). Going over the US side (American Falls) has been guarranteed suicide for years: the bottom of the falls is a large rockpile. If you’ve never visited, the huge, horseshoe-shaped waterfall most people associate with Niagara is the Canadian side.

See for comparison pictures. If you’ve not visited, it’s an interesting trip, though as years pass it gets more and more commercialized. I was there in 2001 as well as in 1987. Be sure to check what’s going on before; that area of Ontario is a wine-growing area and has some massive festivals (as in you’ll spend 3+ hours stuck in traffic on the Canadian highways just go 10 miles or so).

Besides, I think it would not just involve “going over” but that any unauthorized navigation of the Niagara River within X distance of the Falls, of the hydroelectric plant intakes, and of the Park Preserve would be penalized – and they will not authorize it for the purpose of going over. Besides, having it be illegal and subject to a fine helps to keep your estate from attempting to sue the New York and/or Ontario Parks Departments for failing to establish a lunatic-proof barrier.

Me, I have braved the mighty Niagara by stepping into the stream in between two of the Three Sisters Islands. That’s good enough for me.

Suicide is illegal because of certain socially conservative elements in our government. I don’t really think that reason applies in this case.

Sometime in the early 1930’s my parents and I traveled to Buffalo NY by train and then to Niagra Falls (by trolley?). Took a ride on the "Maid of The Mist’ from a dock near the foot of the falls on the Canadian side. Took a trolley of similar transportation to the whirlpool where some poor/fortunate soul had attempted to shoot the rapids and take a tour of the whirlpool was being pulled to safety in barrel of some kind. Crossed the gorge and back to the main bridge near the falls. We passed the big Niagra Power Plant on the way. Quite an impressive trip for what would pass for a mddle-school boy today.

Janie Jones, why did you assume Jessie Sharp went over accidentally? Cecil clearly notes in his column that Roger Woodward went over accidentally, which sets him apart in some respects to the others. Since he specifically mentioned that in his case, he would have mentioned it in Sharp’s case as well. Also, I’m not sure how well a kayak fits in the category of protection.

Perhaps she assumed that no one in his right mind going over the Falls in a kayak would be doing so on purpose.

Obviously, making the assumption that we were dealing with sane minds was an incorrect assumption on her part …

I was a novice kayaker when Sharp made his “attempt” and read the coverage avidly.

  1. He paddled a C1 decked canoe with a single bladed paddle, not a kayak.

  2. He was unbalanced. He thought running 20-40 ft falls was training for the big one. But the general opinion of boaters is anything over 30 you risk back injury. Kayaks have run lower flow (like a thousandth) falls over 70 ft, but with a notoriously high injury rate.

The reports were he spun his paddle in triumph as he went over the edge. Yeah.

What Spiff said.

Cecil’s news is outdated. On Father’s Day, 1995 a two-person team successfully went over the Horseshoe Falls. It was Steve Trotter and Lori Martin. (Ref: “Niagara and the Daredevils” by Philip Mason © 1996 and 2000 editions)

I was there two weeks after this incident. There was some buzz from the locals, but it sounded like a minor incident at the time. I guess details were sketchy. Little did I know…

  • Jinx