10/08/2022

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Coast Guard diver recovers frame from automotive above Niagara Falls

NIAGRA, New York: A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew reached a partly submerged automobile in water above the massive Niagara Falls to lower a rescue diver, who retrieved the remains of the car’s driver.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Derrian Duryea, on a hoist, pulled out the body of a deceased woman who had become trapped inside the car.

Video of the retrieval showed Duryea struggling against strong winds and spraying water to grab hold on the passenger side and open the door.

“As I was coming down I was just really focused on how am I going to get in this car when there are, you know, pretty much rapids coming over the car right next to Niagara Falls,” Duryea said, as quoted by the Associated Press.

“Luckily, the car was unlocked and I did not have to break out any windows and I was able to open up the passenger side door and push it up against the current,” he added.

The helicopter’s pilot, Lt. Chris Monacelli, and flight mechanic Jon Finnerty controlled the aircraft, as mist from the waterfall limited what they could see.

“A lot of bigger planes have de-icing capabilities, but we do not,” Monacelli told the Associated Press.

About two minutes after entering the car, Duryea emerged and signaled for Finnerty to hoist him and the motionless driver, a woman in her 60s, from the water.

“The current was ripping pretty good through there and the car was close to the edge of the falls. If it moved, we did not want him getting dragged out with it,” Finnerty said.

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It is not known how the car fell into the Niagara River, but witnesses reported seeing it floating near a pedestrian bridge, where it was believed to have fallen into the waters, possibly due to slippery roads.

Authorities confirmed that the driver lived in the area, but her name has not yet been released.

New York Park Police Capt. Christopher Rola said his department’s rapid-water rescue teams were unable to reach the car because of its location near the waterfall. Police had used a drone to determine that the auto was occupied.

At a news conference, Rola said, “It was an incredible job by the Coast Guard,” adding that rescuers have never been called to a vehicle so close to the waterfall’s edge.