A mother from Illinois died, and her son survived, after she jumped with him from a 90-foot cliff onto the frozen banks of the Niagara Falls gorge.
The 34-year-old mother, who has not been named, was said to have jumped deliberately after climbing over a railing on Goat Island in Niagara State Park at around 12.30pm on February 12, state police said.
Her body was found near the Cave of the Winds complex, which sits on the US side of the falls that straddle the border with Canada.
The boy, 5, was rescued and transported to a children’s hospital in Buffalo with a head injury but the mother died and her body was airlifted from the bank. The boy underwent surgery and remained in a critical condition as of the following day.
Photos obtained by DailyMail.com appear to show the youngster conscious while being loaded into an ambulance moments after the tragedy.
He was taken to the vehicle to be stabilized, and loaded onto a helicopter shortly afterwards to be flown away for emergency treatment.
The woman was visiting from Illinois with her husband and son when they fell. Police said that they were interviewing the husband as well as other witnesses.
‘The investigation is ongoing, but we don’t believe it is an accident,’ said Capt. Chris Rola of New York State Parks Police. A state police spokesperson on Thursday said the incident was being treated as a suicide attempt.
The two fell into the gorge in the area of the Cave of the Winds elevator which allowed rescuers to easily descend. Niagara Falls Firefighters were able to traverse the bottom of gorge up the ice to where the mother and son had landed.
They were able to carry the boy to the elevator and bring him up to a parking lot on the island, from where he was taken to Oishei Children’s Hospital in a helicopter.
Dramatic footage showed the youngster being stretchered onto a waiting chopper.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene and her body was airlifted out of the gorge.
‘Niagara falls is a tough place to perform rescues,’ said Rola during a press conference on Monday afternoon. ‘[The boy] was stable enough that they were able to carry him out bring him up the elevator to a waiting ambulance.’
‘Unfortunately the female is did not make it and she was recovered by the New York State Police Aviation unit and is being taken by the Niagara County Corner,’ he said.
Rescuers traversed over ‘300 feet of dangerous icy terrain’ while trying to get to the victims, police said on Tuesday.
‘Although today’s nice out it’s very icy down there so it’s real tough terrain that our guys and girls were able to get through and get to them and provide that life-saving care and do everything they could,’ said Rola.
‘We are not releasing any names due to the possibility of this case being a suicide,’ New York State Trooper James O’Callaghan told Buffalo News on Thursday.
He could not say why the family were visiting from Illinois. A spokesperson for hospital said it could not provide details on the boy’s treatment beyond his condition.