The report came in before sunrise, sending members of the Niagara Parks Police scrambling to get to the thundering waterfalls early Tuesday.
There was a man ‘‘in crisis,’’ authorities said in a statement shared on Twitter — and he was near the brink of Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls, which straddles the United States-Canada border and draws tens of millions of visitors each year.
Despite their efforts, when officers arrived to the Canadian side of the falls around 4 a.m., they appeared to be too late.
Park police said they saw the man climb over the retaining wall, a sturdy barrier made of rough-hewn stone blocks interspersed with decorative metal railings, and enter the raging waters of the Niagara River. Within moments, he was swept over the enormous waterfall, vanishing into the impenetrable cloud of mist rising from the gorge.
With no protective covering and facing a roughly 188-foot drop into a roiling pool of water filled with large rocks, the man was unlikely to survive, history suggested. Scores have died taking the plunge either by accident or, in most cases, intentionally. According to the Buffalo News, it is estimated that 25 people annually kill themselves by going over the falls.
But as authorities scoured the lower Niagara River for the man Tuesday morning, they came across an unusual sight. He was sitting on rocks near the edge of the river — and he was alive.
The man was found with non-life-threatening injuries and hospitalized, police said. His identity was not released .
Tuesday’s events unfolded on the 59th anniversary of another miraculous story of survival at Niagara Falls. On July 9, 1960, 7-year-old Roger Woodward was rescued after going over Horseshoe Falls in only a life jacket following a boating accident on the upper portion of the river. At the time, the American boy was the first person to survive the fall without protection from a barrel or another type of vessel.