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Fugitives and Their Attempts at Fleeing Across Niagara Falls

As exciting as it may sound, the lower Niagara River, located between the border of the United States and Canada, is not a recommended escape route from the United States to Canada. These waters, although known for their breathtaking beauty, are also recognized for their deadly currents and dangerous conditions.

Niagara Gorge Rapids Whirlpool Niagara Falls

Both rapids and whirlpools have claimed countless lives over the years due to their turbulent currents. The rapids, in particular, are deemed extremely dangerous because of their fast pace and volatile movements, while the whirlpool is infamous for its potential to trap and drown anything that enters it.


Over the years, several fugitives have made news for trying to swim across this icy cold river to elude authorities. Below is a list of some notable examples who tries, and even succeeded, in crossing the Niagara River:


1. Niagara John Doe: One of the earliest recorded attempts was from an unknown fugitive later nicknamed Niagara John. This man made his desperate dash for freedom in the late 1800s but succumbed to the currents and lost his life.


2. Richard Matt and David Sweat: In a 2015 case that grabbed international headlines, two murderers - Richard Matt and David Sweat, escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, leading the authorities on a weeks-long chase. Although there was a lot of speculation that they may attempt to swim across the Niagara to Canada, both were ultimately apprehended within the United States.


3. Jonathan L. Stahl: In 2018, the police tried to apprehend Stahl on several charges. During the attempt, Stahl ran into the Niagara River and tried to swim across to Canada. However, due to the intense cold and high currents, he turned around halfway and swam back, where he was arrested.


4. Yong Lu: In 2018, a New York City man wanted for allegedly cutting off his pregnant wife’s arm with a steak knife planned to escape authorities by swimming to Canada. Lu was captured at the Niagara Falls Welcome Center before he could make the attempt.


5.Jindrich Koudelka: In 2016, a Czech man tried to enter the United States illegally from Canada by swimming across the lower Niagara River. During the attempt, Koudelka was forced to stop and cling onto a log to stay alive. He was rescued by boaters who found him and later arrested.


6. Unnamed: In 2019, a citizen of Spain was arrested by border patrol agents after swimming across the Niagara River to illegally enter the United States from Canada. His flippers and lifejacket were found near the water and he was later arrested at a nearby mall.


These desperate attempts highlight not only the courage and desperation of the fugitives but also the strength and power of the Niagara River. Tourists visiting the Niagara region often gather at the border crossing points and are told tales of these and other audacious fugitive attempts, providing an intriguingly grim edge to the area's otherwise bright and beautiful landscape.


Although these stories provide a hint of thrill and intrigue, visitors are always cautioned about the immense power of the Niagara River. With intense cold, high currents, and various dangerous elements, swimming in this river can be deadly, which makes it not just a barrier for fugitives, but a reminder to visitors to respect nature's might and majesty.


The Niagara region is so much more than a fugitive's crossing point – it's a celebration of the beautiful, sometimes brutal, but always breathtaking power of nature.

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