NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — One person is dead following a dramatic scene along the upper Niagara River on Wednesday. The New York State Park Police now say that it appears a woman intentionally drove her car into the water above the Falls.
State Parks Police say witnesses reported seeing the car floating down the Niagara River shortly before noon Wednesday before it became hung up on rocks just some 50 yards shy of the brink of the Falls.
The investigation is still ongoing. The cause and manner of death are still under investigation through autopsy. At this time, the victim has not been positively identified through the Medical Examiner or Coroners Office.
State Parks Police will now work with other agencies to determine the safest way to remove the vehicle from the water. On Thursday the car moved within 30 yards of the brink and flipped over.
A State Parks Police spokesperson said Wednesday evening that there were no plans to watch the car or patrol the scene overnight. They are attempting to put together a plan to remove the vehicle.
State Parks Police Captain Chris Rola said several people reported seeing the car enter the water between the vehicle and pedestrian bridges at Goat Island.
It was quickly determined, based on where the car wound up, that a swift water rescue team would not be able to attempt a rescue.
"We've never had a vehicle in the water this close to the brink," Captain Rola said.
While waiting for a Coast Guard helicopter to arrive, a drone was used to see how many people were inside the vehicle and to attempt to get its license plate number.
Once on the scene, a rescue swimmer was lowered down from the Coast Guard chopper and was able to pull the deceased driver from the vehicle.
Captain Rola said the driver was a woman in her 60s from the area, but would not release her identity until family notification was made. Her body was taken to the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office for review.
The U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes rescue crew responsible for pulling the woman from the car stuck in the Niagara River was preparing for training when they got the call and flew in from Detroit around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
That crew included flight mechanic Jon Finnerty, helicopter co-pilot Jake Wawrzyniak, aviation survival technician Derrian Duryea, and aircraft commander Chris Monacelli.
State Parks Press Briefing: