Dramatic Rescue Made By Niagara Falls Sight-Seeing Company
Niagara Helicopters Limited, an
aerial tour company based in Niagara Falls, Ontario, is being
credited with saving the life of an apparently suicidal man who
jumped into the rapids above the Horseshoe Falls last
Pilot and owner of Niagara Helicopters, Ruedi Hafen, said he and
his team had to contend with some of the most treacherous
conditions imaginable -- ice, high winds and waves -- while trying
to rescue a man who was resisting their efforts. The man had
already unhooked his arm from a sling extended to him, and Hafen
said he was worried about the helicopter's tail rotor dipping in
the water on subsequent attempts to pull the victim to safety.
"We had three good men on the helicopter and you strive for
making this a success, the shore is 200-feet away and everyone on
shore is ready for the guy. He was already in the water for 30
minutes and he was getting weaker."
Hafen tilted the helicopter at an angle which created a wave
that swept the man closer to shore, making it easier for rescuers
on the ground to reach out to him. The man is now recovering in the
The Niagara Fire Department called Hafen an "angel."
"I've been living on a cloud," the 56-year-old pilot said. "I'm
very elated. Nobody got injured, we didn't lose any equipment. It
was a team effort, I was just the pilot."
Niagara Helicopters, which is better known for its aerial
sight-seeing tours over Niagara Falls, has been an active
participant in search and rescue missions in the Niagara Region for
over 27 years. Staff volunteer their time and take annual search
and rescue training courses, while the company donates the use of
its helicopters, life-saving equipment and fuel for the
"We have the experience and the equipment and want to do
whatever we can to help people in dire situations," maintains
Hafen. "When we get calls we go, no questions asked."