On Wednesday, a US Coast Guard helicopter was called out for what officials hoped would be a rescue operation, but unfortunately became a recovery effort.
A woman’s car went into the Niagara River near the brink of American Falls, which make up the American side of Niagara Falls.
A US Coast Guard helicopter arrived on scene, hovering low over the icy waters of the Niagara River before a Coast Guardsman was lowered on a cable onto the nearly fully submerged vehicle.
Video of the harrowing operation showed the rescuer using an axe to open the vehicle’s door as waters from the Niagara river splashed against them and what little of the car remained above water.
The rescuer managed to pull the woman’s body from the vehicle and was raised back up and away from the icy river before they were set back down on land sometime later.
Local reports indicate the woman inside was a 66-year-old woman. Officials confirmed the woman was dead when the rescuer arrived at the car. Authorities said the woman lived in the area, but have not released her name.
Police reportedly became aware of the situation when witnesses saw the vehicle floating down the river toward the brink of American Falls. Witnesses also noted that there was a woman inside the car.
According to WKBW, the New York State Police Swift Water team would normally handle situations like the one that occurred on Wednesday, but due to the vehicle’s proximity to the waterfall’s edge the Coast Guard was called in for assistance.
Police said the vehicle was about 50 yards from the edge of the falls.
CBS 6 News spoke with local police, who said the vehicle entered the rapids near a bridge further up the river.
It is not currently known how the car entered the water, or if it was an accident or intentional. The deceased 66-year-old woman is believed to have been the only occupant of the vehicle.
According to local reports, response crews are currently determining how to pull the vehicle out of the water.
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