Video: Woman on homemade raft rescued from Niagara River after resisting first responders

Officials said the woman brandished two steak knives and threatened to kill the rescuers


Niagara Gazette, Niagara Falls, N.Y.

NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. — U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Niagara Falls Station, the U.S. Coast Guard and several local first responders rescued a 54-year-old woman on a raft on the lower Niagara River early Sunday morning.

About 4:30 a.m. Sunday, Border Patrol agents responded to the lower Niagara River near Lewiston Landing for reports of a woman on a homemade raft. Lewiston Police, Niagara County Sheriff's deputies and local firefighters also responded to the scene to aid.

Agents maneuvered to initiate a rescue due the freezing water and air temperatures after they discovered the woman, a U.S. citizen, located only 50 yards from the shore.

After multiple attempts to talk the woman into returning to shore failed, the U.S. Coast Guard quickly responded and maneuvered a vessel near her to perform a water rescue, but she refused and paddled away. When the river current and Coast Guard vessel wake pushed her craft close to the shoreline, agents and officers attempted to rescue her, but backed away after she brandished a knife and threatened to kill anyone who approached her.

Her craft again came close to the shoreline, but as agents and officers approached, she brandished two steak knives and again made verbal threats to harm anyone who approached her.

The woman was finally rescued from the homemade raft with the assistance of a Lewiston Police officer after an agent used a fishing net pole to knock the steak knives from her hands. She exhibited signs of hypothermia from extreme exposure and was immediately transported by a Lewiston No. 1 ambulance with Upper Mountain Fire Co. paramedics to a local hospital for treatment and psychiatric care.

"The heroic actions of agents and officers to save this woman's life is amazing," said Patrol Agent in Charge Brady Waikel of the Niagara Falls Border Patrol Station. "They risked their lives to help a distraught woman in very dangerous conditions, but this is what law enforcement does every day."

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(c)2021 the Niagara Gazette (Niagara Falls, N.Y.)

 

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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