Five people have now gone over the falls without physical protection and somehow lived. There was Woodward, whose unlikely journey is still known as the “Miracle at Niagara.” There was Kirk Jones, who in 2003 survived what he called a suicide attempt but what some friends said was a long-shot stunt. Fourteen years later, Jones died while apparently seeking to ride over in an inflatable ball.
Since 2009, three others – their names never revealed by authorities – have attempted suicide yet survived at the base of the falls.
In every situation, Woodward, 66, a retired technology executive, hears from many journalists seeking his reaction. How and whether he responds depends on the questions. During his childhood, the overwhelming nature of the attention caused his parents to leave Niagara Falls, and there was a long period when he rarely spoke of what he endured.
Now, he will address it only if he senses an understanding of the truth, which equates to an everyday philosophy he wishes he could somehow share with the man who leaped, out of despair:
“As I’ve grown older,” Woodward said, “I’ve just felt this profound appreciation for life.”
He does not want to be bundled in with daredevils and barrel riders. In 1960, he was a little boy living in a mobile home while his dad helped build the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. As part of celebrating Deanne’s 17th birthday, Honeycutt – a work friend of their father’s – offered to take the siblings for a boat ride on the river.