A man, Kirk R. Jones, 53, of Spring Hill, Florida, died while trying to survive going over Niagara Falls inside an inflatable ball after he made a successful jump during his first attempt, in October 2003, without any protection. Jones made his second attempt on April 19. The body of Jones was recovered from the Niagara River on June 2 by the U.S. Coast Guard in Youngstown. The identity of the body was not revealed to the media until late Thursday night.
The Washington Post reported that when Jones was successful surviving an unprotected plunge over Niagara Falls in 2003, he was on the American side and went over “Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls State Park, N.Y.” Detective Sgt. Brian Nisbet of the New York State Park Police said that when Jones survived the daring feat, he became the first person to ever survive an unprotected plunge over Niagara Falls.
Jones might have felt that being inside an inflatable ball would offer him more protection the second time he attempted a plunge over Niagara Falls; but, if so, he made a grave miscalculation or possibly just tempted fate one time too many. The inflatable ball Jones made his second attempt in had a diameter of ten feet, or approximately three meters.
Nisbet said that the Maid of the Mist tour boat recovered the empty inflatable ball Jones attempted to use. Since Jones made his successful unprotected plunge in October 2003, when he lived in Canton, Michigan, there have been three other successful unprotected plunges over Niagara Falls.
The Buffalo News reported that when Jones became the first person to survive an unprotected plunge over Niagara Falls, he was just wearing a pair of jeans, two winter coats and sneakers. According to a contemporary account of the stunt, shortly after the successful attempt was made, Jones told his friends at a rowdy drunken weekend-long party in Michigan that he was going to try making the unprotected plunge, three weeks previous to the attempt. The stunt helped seal his reputation as “a daredevil.”
Horseshoe Falls is 170 feet high, according to the Niagara Gazette, and it is located in Queen Victoria Park, nearby the Table Rock House. A friend of Jones from Michigan said Jones had been confident he would succeed in making an unprotected plunge from Niagara Falls back in 2003. Jones reportedly told his friend he would probably make a lot of money if he was able to do the stunt and survive. Not many of Jones’ friends believed he would actually go through with the brash attempt, but he proved them wrong.
When Kirk R. Jones, 53, tried to go over Niagara Falls the second time, on April 19, 2017, he planned to be inside an inflatable ball, but his second attempt went somehow wrong, and he ended up dying, instead of making further history. His body was recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard in Youngstown, New York, on June 2, but authorities did not reveal whose body had been discovered until late on Thursday night, June 15, 2017.
By John Samuels