Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Woman rescued from Niagara River Gorge

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Buffalo: Woman rescued from Niagara River Gorge
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A woman was rescued from the Niagara River Gorge Friday afternoon. The outcome may have been different had it not been for a group of people passing by.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Around 3:30 p.m. Friday, emergency responders rescued a woman on the banks of the Niagara River Gorge.

"Someone saw what was going on, called the police department and we activated response immediately," Major David Page of NY State Parks Police said.

Vanessa Veltman said her boyfriend's mother had convinced the family to take an autumn stroll at Whirlpool State Park.

"We're just walking along and my father-in-law yells out, 'oh my God, I think there's a person down there,'" Veltman said,

Her boyfriend, Brian Gates, said at first they weren't sure if the person they were seeing was in trouble.

"There was a guy fishing down at the bottom and he just walked right past the person," Gates said. "I don't think he knew there was a person down there at all."

Then they said it looked like the woman hanging on to the rocks was dead.

"All of a sudden we saw her arm move and my mother just screamed my God she's alive, let's call 911," Veltman said.

Within the hour, the Niagara Falls Fire Department and New York Sate Parks Police had the woman safely on land. They said she was conscious, with minor injuries.

"Obviously it's cold tonight," Page said. "The water temperature's cold. Hypothermia's a primary concern. But again she was removed from the water and bundled up right quick."

Veltman and her family nervously watched the entire rescue.

"We were afraid that the person was going to slip away and lose her strength at any minute. It didn't look like that person could really fend for herself," Gates said.

"I just kept praying and thinking she's got to hold on. Just please let her hold on before they get down there and get her." Veltman said. "I just kept thinking if she lets go and starts to slip away while we tried to save her I'll be devastated."

The victim was taken to the hospital and this story appears to have a happy ending, thanks in no small part to a family that was glad they decided to visit the gorge.

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