Archive for Thursday, October 23, 2003

Niagara Falls survivor feels ‘life is worth living’ now

October 23, 2003


— The man who walked away virtually unharmed from a plunge over Niagara Falls said he had been suicidal, but the experience made him want to live.

The comments contradict statements from authorities suggesting Kirk Jones was simply a daredevil -- the latest in a long line who have sought to conquer Niagara Falls.

Jones, 40, was released from the hospital into police custody Wednesday evening, but authorities did not immediately release information on where he was taken.

In a note to a fellow patient who was released from the hospital, Jones said life had much to offer.

"When you are feeling down, just remember the power of the Niagara," said the handwritten note, which Brandon Steward said was given to him by Jones.

In a telephone interview with ABC News, Jones said he did not want to go on living when he climbed over a guardrail and into the churning Niagara River on Monday. "But I can tell you now after hitting the falls I feel that life is worth living," he said.

His father, Raymond Jones of Keizer, Ore., told The Associated Press that his son sounded cheerful Wednesday in a phone call from the psychiatric unit at Greater Niagara General Hospital.

"He feels peppy," the 80-year-old father said. "He fully expected to die. He was near death. He knew it. He thinks he was saved for a reason."

The Canton, Mich., native is the only person known to have survived a plunge over the falls without a safety device.

Inspector Paul Forcier said the incident was not being treated as a suicide attempt, but Jones was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

Forcier said police were reviewing a videotape shot by a friend who accompanied Jones to the park. Jones will be charged with mischief and unlawfully performing a stunt and could be fined about $7,600, Forcier said.

Jones said his change of heart occurred when he jumped into the water. "At that point I wished I had not done it. But I guess I knew it was way too late for that," he said.

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