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Mother dead, 5-year-old son severely injured after jumping into Niagara Gorge: Report

Composite screenshot of WGRZ-TV YouTube video

A woman is dead and her 5-year-old son is in critical condition after the two apparently crossed the safety rail along the Niagara Gorge and jumped over the edge.

Around 12:30 p.m. on Monday, the New York State Park Police received several calls that an adult woman and a young boy had jumped over the edge of the gorge near the Cave of the Winds observation area and fallen to the icy surface 90 feet below. When police and the Niagara Falls Fire Department arrived, they had to traverse "more than 300 feet of dangerous icy terrain to provide lifesaving measures to both individuals," a police press release stated.

Unfortunately, the first responders were unable to save the woman, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. The boy, however, was still alive, despite a serious head injury. Rescue teams whisked him up the elevator at the Cave of the Winds, and a medevac flight then transported the boy to Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo around 2 p.m. As of Tuesday afternoon, he had undergone surgery and was said to be in critical condition.

"Our rescuers, along with Niagara Falls Fire Department, were able to reach pretty quickly both of the victims," said Police Capt. Chris Rola, adding, "[W]e were going to make every effort for that child that was still alive at the time."

An investigation into the incident remains ongoing, and police have shared only a few details. The mother and son had arrived at the park with the woman's husband, and he is cooperating with investigators. The family is not from "the immediate area," the press release said. None of their names have been released.

"[W]e don’t believe it was an accident," Rola stated.

"Niagara Falls is a tough place to perform rescues," he said, "and we have swift water rescue team, we have high angle rope rescue guys that train all the time."

Niagara Gorge is the canyon created by the Niagara River, which separates the U.S. and Canada. The gorge begins at the base of Niagara Falls and extends north another seven miles. Niagara Falls State Park is located on Goat Island, near the southern end of the gorge, and the Cave of the Winds observation area is located near the northeastern edge of the island.

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