Niagara Nutcase
October 22, 2003 1:16 AM   Subscribe

Man Jumps off Niagara Falls and survives. Kirk Jones is my kinda guy. He always thought he could jump off of Niagara Falls and survive, and yesterday he proved it. Final word must go to his mother "We'd rather he hadn't done that"...
posted by rikabel (41 comments total)

Plain and simple stupid.

Or very drunk.
posted by cx at 3:16 AM on October 22, 2003

Courage? Your kinda guy? The man is an idiot.
posted by jontyjago at 3:39 AM on October 22, 2003

posted by nthdegx at 3:43 AM on October 22, 2003

Clearly, this man was unaware of the collection of huge rocks at the bottom of the falls, and the many successful suicide attempts that never make the news. His survival was incredible. His judgement was very, very poor.

I live 10 minutes from The Falls and believe me, it's one huge, frightening thing. The drop's gotta be horrifying beyond belief.
posted by davebush at 4:05 AM on October 22, 2003

He ain't stupid, he's from Michigan. Woulda been smarter though to do it in summer when the water is warmer, but Michiganders aren't much concerned over cold water, being fair used to it.

Seriously, seems to me this shouldn't be that impossible. The falling water breaks the surface tension. The water is deep at the bottom of Horseshoe Falls, so you're not going to be bashed on rocks. Current going down must also come up. That's the "maybe" part. Maybe you come up quick, maybe not. Anxious to hear details of his experience.
posted by Goofyy at 4:06 AM on October 22, 2003

Man tries for Darwin Award, fails.
posted by konolia at 4:41 AM on October 22, 2003

Many news stories are claiming that he was the first to go over the falls without a barrel and live, but as the linked article mentioned, Roger Woodward did it in 1960 at the age of seven.
posted by TedW at 4:57 AM on October 22, 2003

TedW - the BBC article has it that he is the first to go over without a protective device and live. Roger Woodward was wearing a life jacket, although I certainly wouldn't have thought it would give much protection against 150,000 gallons of water a second...
posted by jontyjago at 5:47 AM on October 22, 2003

I visited the falls when I was in high school, and I remember buying a pamphlet about all of the daredevils who've flocked to the falls, walking across it on tightropes and things like that. Quite a number of people have built capsules of sorts to protect them on the ride. Some survived. There are so many different ways that you could get killed doing this.
posted by Songdog at 6:01 AM on October 22, 2003

goofyy, please don't emphasize the fact he's from my homestate. (Although I will entertain *Canton*-specific jokes.)

The thrill seeker ... faces a psychiatric exam and the prospect of a $10,000 fine.

Dullest knife in the drawer, ya ask me. Doubt he's going to make the money he's anticipating either.
posted by NorthernLite at 6:23 AM on October 22, 2003

You don't hear about the ones that don't survive.
posted by tommasz at 6:24 AM on October 22, 2003

Annie Taylor was the first person to go over the falls in a barrel, according to the daredevil gallery at Info Niagara. The Straight Dope has an article about attempts at going over the falls, including a guy on a jet ski (died) and this guy:
Charles Stephens, oak barrel, 1920. Stephens also brought an anvil for ballast, but he strapped it to his feet. When the barrel hit the water at the base of the falls, the anvil kept going, breaking through the bottom lid and taking most of Stephens with it (his right arm was found still strapped in).
posted by kirkaracha at 6:37 AM on October 22, 2003

He ain't stupid, he's from Michigan.

As a college student in Michigan, that's one of the most contradictory statements I've ever heard.
posted by insomnyuk at 6:50 AM on October 22, 2003

Man Jumps off Niagara Falls and survives.

I say give him another try. He'll get it right this time.
posted by UncleFes at 7:25 AM on October 22, 2003

Back during my "I know he's a juggler, but I love him" phase, a group of us tried to figure out a way to get a tightrope across the falls so we could try and walk it. Fortunately, we were all very stoned, so we weren't motivated to actually *do* it.
posted by dejah420 at 7:25 AM on October 22, 2003

Darwin missed.
posted by Cerebus at 7:26 AM on October 22, 2003

Also my kinda guy.

You pussies.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:46 AM on October 22, 2003

from cnn:

Since 1901, 15 daredevils have taken the plunge in barrels or other devices, including a kayak and a personal watercraft. Ten survived, said Niagara Falls historian Paul Gromosiak.
Among them was Steven Trotter, who made the trip twice: in 1985 in a barrel wrapped in innertubes, and in 1995, when he made the plunge with his girlfriend in another makeshift barrel. He said Jones' leap "cheapens the legend."

I think someone's jealous.
posted by cardboard at 7:57 AM on October 22, 2003

Reminds me of the beginnings of Paterson.
posted by Satapher at 8:10 AM on October 22, 2003

Trotter's not the only one, cardboard:
[Dave] Munday and Steve Trotter are the only people to make the ride twice. Munday, who went over in 1983 and again in 1995, was skeptical that someone had made it over outside of a barrel.

"I'd be interested in seeing the pictures and the proof of this," Munday said in a phone interview from Nova Scotia, where he now lives. "When you do something, you've got to have proof. Anybody can go sit on a rock at the bottom. We want to know how he got there."


Munday, who witnessed a huge increase in fines as daredevil stunts became more common in the 1980s and 1990s, said, "If it turns out to be true, and this man did go over the falls, I'm counting on him to pay the same fine that I did. My last fine was $10,000."
posted by pmurray63 at 8:13 AM on October 22, 2003

That is just plain awesome.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:15 AM on October 22, 2003

Yeah, what was he thinking? Shouldn't he be sitting in an office somewhere, wearing a tie? Bastard.
posted by rushmc at 8:20 AM on October 22, 2003

I've been gathering that the guy has some problems, and this morning's info seems to confirm that:
A man who went over Niagara Falls head first said Wednesday that he was driven by depression, not a desire to become a daredevil.


In a phone interview with ABC News, Jones said he had been depressed, but surviving the plunge made him want to live again.

``I honestly thought that it wasn't worth going on. But I can tell you now after hitting the falls I feel that life is worth living,'' he said.
Which reminds me of this passage from the recent New Yorker article about suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge:
Survivors often regret their decision in midair, if not before. Ken Baldwin and Kevin Hines both say they hurdled over the railing, afraid that if they stood on the chord they might lose their courage. Baldwin was twenty-eight and severely depressed on the August day in 1985 when he told his wife not to expect him home till late. “I wanted to disappear,” he said. “So the Golden Gate was the spot. I’d heard that the water just sweeps you under.” On the bridge, Baldwin counted to ten and stayed frozen. He counted to ten again, then vaulted over. “I still see my hands coming off the railing,” he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”

Kevin Hines was eighteen when he took a municipal bus to the bridge one day in September, 2000. After treating himself to a last meal of Starbursts and Skittles, he paced back and forth and sobbed on the bridge walkway for half an hour. No one asked him what was wrong. A beautiful German tourist approached, handed him her camera, and asked him to take her picture, which he did. “I was like, ‘Fuck this, nobody cares,’” he told me. “So I jumped.” But after he crossed the chord, he recalls, “My first thought was What the hell did I just do? I don’t want to die.”
posted by pmurray63 at 8:23 AM on October 22, 2003

The saddest part of that New Yorker article, for me, was this:

Motto had a patient who committed suicide from the Golden Gate in 1963, but the jump that affected him most occurred in the seventies. “I went to this guy’s apartment afterward with the assistant medical examiner,” he told me. “The guy was in his thirties, lived alone, pretty bare apartment. He’d written a note and left it on his bureau. It said, ‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.’”
posted by gleuschk at 8:34 AM on October 22, 2003

Shouldn't he be sitting in an office somewhere, wearing a tie? Bastard.

hey, now - advising a potential client that their tax position would be improved long-term by funding their growing benefits liability in a bear market using atypical insurance instruments as opposed to mutual funds or company stock against the advice of their CFO and VP-HR who are sitting right there across the table? Now's THAT'S balls, man.

Niagara Falls is for candy-asses.
posted by UncleFes at 8:39 AM on October 22, 2003

Suicide... I wonder if the mind can think fast enough to have a thought cross it right before a bullet enters the brain... I wonder if the mind has the power to *keep* thinking after the bullet has passed through... and, if so, for how long?
posted by LoopSouth at 8:44 AM on October 22, 2003

gleuschk: I thought the same. Also, from pmurray63's excerpt:

A beautiful German tourist approached

Is it that the Germans are so insensitive to suffering, or is it that he jumped despite the obvious sexual opportunity? Why are we told she's German and beautiful?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:47 AM on October 22, 2003

My father used to scuba dive for the City of Niagara Falls Fire Department, and for the Maid of the Mist tour boats that cruise the river below The Falls. He's seen more than his share of body parts in those waters, and in the whirlpool north of there. [I think with DNA testing that is now available, possibly hundreds of "missing" people from all over N.America could have been identified by their (few, scattered) remains below The Falls...]

One of my cousin's boyfriends ended his life in a bout of teen depression by leaping over the brink and into the gorge...

And I've been fishing with Wes Hill, son of "Red" Hill, Jr. in the whirlpool (didn't catch anything but tennis balls and floatation buoys dropped by pleasure craft in Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River, but it was a fun day nonetheless)...

Just like Roger Woodward, the fact that this guy survived is a miracle, plain and simple. I hope he keeps in mind that many of the daredevils who survived and tried to profit from it have often ended up dead sooner than they might have hoped after surviving the plunge over this natural wonder.

And as someone who used to work in the Niagara Falls tourist industry as a teenager, who's seen The Falls thousands of times, as part of his job, I can still appreciate how beautiful and magnificent they are. Visit The Falls in winter time, most especially -- the ice on the trees in the parks is really, really pretty.
posted by Badmichelle at 9:06 AM on October 22, 2003

Where is film footage on this? someone had to have caught it in these days.
Noticed he was ashamed after the fall, had a blanket covering his face while being escorted away...
posted by thomcatspike at 9:11 AM on October 22, 2003

Yes, thomcatspike, but you won't see it. Not soon, anyway:
Kirk Jones' dreams of immortality apparently arose about a month ago. That's when he and his family went to Niagara Falls and the planning began, said Jones' friend Emil Fronek, of Garden City.

"He'd been talking about it for a few weeks. I thought he was full of it," said Fronek, whose roommate, Robert Krueger, videotaped the plunge into Niagara Falls.


Fronek said police seized his roommate Krueger's videotape of the jump and won't give it back.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:25 AM on October 22, 2003

barrel of laughs ...

On emerging from her barrel after plunging over Niagara Falls on October 24, 1901 Annie Taylor said "No one ought ever do that again."

... timing is eVerything.
posted by de at 9:57 AM on October 22, 2003

He makes David Blaine look like a child.
posted by banished at 10:18 AM on October 22, 2003

His parents and brother were on the news this morning. I counted 15 teeth between the three of them.
posted by archimago at 11:21 AM on October 22, 2003

I bet he sent a dummy over and was waiting at the bottom the whole time.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:34 AM on October 22, 2003

Grew up in the town next to Niagara Falls. My favourite story is the one about the kayaker from TN who thought he could build up enough speed to shoot out of the water's drag at the falls. He thought that he woud make it if he could land the kayak in such a way that the force of impact would be distributed along the reinforced hull. They found his arm.

Another guy was caught on the US side before he could go over the American Falls (all rocks at the bottom). He had a giant yellow foam ball on the back of a flatbed truck. That would have been fun to watch.
posted by mzanatta at 11:38 AM on October 22, 2003

Badmichelle, your dead link is an amazing story. Reminds me of the death of Jack Daniel, of whiskey-making fame.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:49 AM on October 22, 2003

In the immortal words of George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:06 PM on October 22, 2003

A good line from the NYT story: "The stunt defied the laws of physics and Canada."
posted by lisa g at 3:07 PM on October 22, 2003

That is my kind of guy. A regular shot of adrenaline can do wonders for your well-being and this would have given him enough to keep depression at bay for quite some time, I imagine.

If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.’”
This really brought a lump to my throat. I think I know exactly how he felt.
posted by dg at 4:46 PM on October 22, 2003

Northernlite: My home state too. I'm just a long way away.
posted by Goofyy at 1:32 AM on October 23, 2003

‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.’

Down in the South, people smile a's just a common greeting form when you pass someone and happen to make eye contact. I noticed that when I'm anywhere north of Virginia, people seem confused...and almost hostile about being randomly smiled at by strange women.
posted by dejah420 at 10:37 PM on October 25, 2003

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