Society

Man Dies Going Over Niagara Falls In Inflatable Ball

| by Sarah Zimmerman

The Michigan man who was the first person to plunge unprotected over Niagara Falls and survive has now died after reportedly attempting the stunt again in an inflatable ball. 

In 2003, Kirk R. Jones, then 40, became the first person in history to dive down the Niagara Falls without any sort of protection, according to Syracuse.com. On June 2, his body was discovered by the U.S. Coast Guard almost 12 miles away from the falls, at the mouth of Lake Ontario.

Police believe he attempted the stunt April 19, when witnesses saw a 10-foot ball rapidly spinning above the rapids. After the ball, which was large enough to fit a person inside, toppled over the falls, it was found unmanned by the Maid of the Mist sightseeing boat.

Investigators have confirmed that Jones was in the Niagara Falls area on April 19 and believe that he "may have been attempting a stunt by going over Niagara Falls in a large inflatable ball." 

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Jones initially completed the stunt in 2003 wearing only jeans, tennis shoes and two winter coats, according to the Daily Mail. He suffered only bruises, scrapes and battered ribs.

Jones was charged for unlawfully performing a stunt and mischief in a Canadian court. He was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine and was subsequently banned from attempting the stunt again. 

Although his family told reporters that he did it as a daredevil stunt, Jones said that he jumped because he was trying to kill himself.

"Honestly thought that it wasn't worth going on. But I can tell you now after hitting the falls I feel that life is worth living," he said.

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At the time, Jones appeared to have no intention of jumping again.

"I understand what I did was wrong," he said after his 2003 court appearance. "You'll never see an action in Niagara waters with my name written on it again."

According to Syracuse.com, Jones was able to use his fame from the plunge to join a Florida circus as a stunt performer. He and his brother, Keith Jones, reportedly planned to write a book titled "You're Kidding Me: A Knucklehead's Guide to Surviving Niagara Falls." There is no confirmation that such a book was ever published or was in the works for publication.

Jones was 53. His relatives could not be reached for comment.

Since Jones' jump in 2003, three others have successfully completed the 180-foot plunge without protection.

Sources: Syracuse.com, Daily Mail / Photo credit: Joe deSusa/Flickr

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