Dramatic Rescues Make It a Good Week for Waterfall News

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Given that we have not one, but two incredible rescue stories and another feat of derring-do in the works, it's clear that waterfalls are very hot right now. 

Over the weekend, a 13-year-old boy was plucked from the top of a 270-foot waterfall in Washington state after he waded into the water to "cool off" and was nearly swept away to his doom. The boy was carried a smaller 10-foot waterfall higher up the river, but managed to climb onto a rock just before the main drop of Wallace Falls, outside of Seattle. The boy was stuck on the rock for several hours and became hypothermic, before rescuers could secure a route to reach him. Authorities released video of the rescue on Monday, during the press conference where the boy described his ordeal.

Then yesterday afternoon, a man in Canada inadvertently made history by surviving a 180-foot drop over Niagara Falls after a failed suicide attempt. The unidentified man climbed a retaining wall and jumped into the river just above the famous Horseshoe Falls, but somehow managed to make it to the rocks below without being killed. He's believed to be only the fourth person ever to go over the Falls without the aid of any safety equipment and live. The man (pictured above being plucked from the river) is in critical condition, but expected to fully recover.

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Speaking of Niagara Falls and safety equipment, that could be the hitch that takes any drama out of upcoming stunt by highwire walker Nik Wallenda. The daredevil —and seventh-generation member of The Flying Wallendas — has been planning to walk over the falls on a two-inch wide tightrope during a three-hour primetime special next month. However, ABC is insisting (against Wallenda objections) that he wear a harness that would tie him to the rope, eliminating the chance that he might fall to his death on national TV. Wallenda says he never uses such safety equipment, but his great-grandfather, Karl, died on camera after falling ten stories from a highwire at age 73 and the network surely doesn't want a repeat of that.

The lowered danger may make the spectacle slightly less gripping, but it's clear that (North) America loves waterfall rescues way more than waterfall deaths.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.