Woman pulled from car submerged at brink of Niagara Falls

A woman was pulled from a vehicle that was nearly submerged about 50 yards from the brink of the American Falls Wednesday afternoon by a Coast Guard officer lowered to the vehicle by helicopter.

State parks police said the woman was in her 60s. She was unresponsive and taken from the scene by ambulance once she was brought to land in a dramatic rescue. A diver in an orange suit was lowered from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter down to the car as the helicopter’s blades whipped up the already strong river current.

The diver carrying an ax went into the passenger side and pulled the person from the passenger side door. The two were carried over to the ground.

<p>Emergency people monitor a car in the water at the brink of Niagara Falls.</p>

Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News

Emergency people monitor a car in the water at the brink of Niagara Falls.

The dark-colored compact vehicle was roughly 30 feet from the edge of land in the park. It was mostly submerged in the river and the trunk was open, facing the brink of the falls. Police were able to read the license plate and identify the owner of the vehicle, though it wasn’t clear whether that was the woman who was pulled from it. There were no other occupants.

A police spokesman wouldn’t say whether the woman drove into the water intentionally or by accident. He said witnesses called 911 reporting that they saw a car enter the water between the Goat Island pedestrian bridge and the vehicle bridge on the American side of the falls. Police said the woman was local to Western New York.  

Dozens of fire and police crews were on the scene and at least one state parks police officer could be seen putting on diving gear. Ultimately an air rescue was determined to be the only option for reaching the car because divers were not able to secure two points on land that would have allowed them to enter the water from the shore.

A video posted by Niagara Action, which posts information from scanner accounts and videos from breaking news situations, showed the heavy current of the river rushing over the vehicle.