“We don’t believe it was an accident,” Captain Chris Rola of the New York State Park Police told reporters at the edge of the Niagara Gorge earlier this week.
Some 90 feet below the site of the Monday afternoon news conference, officials said a woman and her five-year-old son fell into the gorge near the Cave of the Winds complex in Niagara Falls, New York.
Police said at approximately 12:30 p.m., they received multiple calls that an adult female and a child had reportedly climbed over a railing and fell from the edge.
When officers arrived on scene, Rola said, they used the elevator within the Cave of the Winds to get to the gorge’s base.
“Niagara Falls Fire also was called, they assisted, went down with us, and they were able to traverse the bottom of the gorge up the ice to where the two individuals had fallen,” he said.
Although his injuries were critical, the boy was in stable enough condition that emergency crews were able to transport him back up the elevator to an awaiting air ambulance that transferred him to John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital in downtown Buffalo, Rola said.
The mother, meanwhile, did not survive despite life-saving efforts. Rola said her body was recovered by the New York State Police Aviation Unit via helicopter and has been received by the Niagara County coroner.
Officials said the boy has since undergone surgery in hospital for a head injury, where he remains in critical condition.
Rola said police are speaking with several bystanders who were present at the time of the incident, including the woman’s husband, as the investigation unfolds.
He added that rescues in the area can be challenging and that the February weather added another layer of difficulty to the emergency response.
“Although today is nice out, it is 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,” Rola said.
The identities of the mother and son have not been released.
Police said the family involved is not from the “immediate area.”
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