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Woman’s body pulled from submerged car in dramatic recovery at Niagara Falls’ edge

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First responders monitor a car partially submerged in the Niagara River near the brink of American Falls.

In a dramatic rescue attempt on Wednesday, a US Coast Guard diver braved the frigid rapids where a car had become submerged in water near the brink of Niagara Falls, only to find it was too late to rescue the person trapped inside.

The diver was lowered from a hovering helicopter, climbed into the car and pulled out the body of its lone occupant, a woman in her 60s, officials from New York’s state park police said.

Video and images on social media shows the Coast Guard diver, in an orange suit and a helmet, fighting against strong wind and water to enter through the passenger side of the black car, which appeared stuck near the edge of the falls.

“It was an incredible job by the Coast Guard,” said the park police Capt Christopher Rola at a news conference.

Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, tweeted that she was “saddened by the tragic loss of life” and praised the “swift and heroic actions” of emergency crews.

It was unclear how the car got into the Niagara River. Witnesses reported seeing it floating near a pedestrian bridge, where it was believed to have gone in. Roads in the area were slippery as a light snow fell.

The car appeared to be almost completely submerged with only part of the roof and open trunk hatch visible through the rapidly flowing water.

Police used a drone to determine it was occupied.

Authorities said the woman lived in the area. Her name was not released pending notification of her relatives.

After the recovery, the vehicle remained about 50 yards (45 metres) from the brink of the American Falls, one of three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls. Onlookers watched as emergency crews prepared to try to pull the vehicle from the water.

Rola said the state park department’s swift-water rescue teams had been unable to get to the car because of its location.

Niagara Falls, located in upstate New York near the Canadian border, has a history of attracting both daredevils who try to cheat death by plunging over in homemade contraptions, and those driven by suicide.

Emergency crews, however, had never been called for a vehicle so close to the edge, Rola said. He said investigators would try to determine whether the vehicle wound up in the water by accident or intentionally.

A US Coast Guard helicopter hovers over a vehicle submerged in the frigid water near the edge of Niagara Falls.
A Coast Guard diver is lowered from a helicopter to pull a body from the vehicle stuck near the brink of American Falls.

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