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CHALLENGE STILL BURNING INSIDE FALLS DAREDEVIL

It was the Kirk Jones show, starring Kirk Jones.

The former auto parts salesman from Michigan, who survived an unprotected plunge over the Horseshoe Falls, told a sparse and often-skeptical gathering Wednesday that his next stunt will be to jump off the roof of a Las Vegas hotel.

Then he took a rambling stroll across Goat Island to the brink of the American Falls and reflected on his "leap of faith" from the Canadian side a year ago.

Jones couldn't hold the news conference in Niagara Falls, Ont., because he is barred for life from the Ontario park as part of a plea bargain for a misdemeanor that could have cost him a $10,000 fine.

"I'm not a special man as far as being a stuntman, but the idea of a challenge still burns inside me," Jones, 40, told reporters in the Fallside Cafe and Souvenir Shop.

Cafe owner Lou Antonacci arranged the news conference.

Jones said he plans to jump off a major hotel in Las Vegas to break the world record for the longest free-fall, which he said is more than 200 feet, and land in a giant air bag, like the ones used by movie stuntmen.

"I never intend to challenge the falls again, but other challenges await," said Jones, who was dressed all in black and surrounded by newspaper headlines and TV videos reliving his plunge of last Oct. 21.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the longest free-fall from a building was 1,100 feet off the CN Tower in Toronto in 1979. Jones said that man used a cable to guide himself down and that he plans to jump without one. He said he will take the plunge later this winter but wouldn't say when or what hotel. He said he would give more information in about a month at another news conference in Niagara Falls.

Jones then led a half-dozen TV and newspaper reporters and photographers over to Goat Island, where he offered his hand to surprised tourists and introduced himself as the man who went over the falls.

Uniformed State Parks Police officers followed Jones on his one-man publicity tour.

"I was an angry man that day," Kirk told anyone who would listen.

Jones said he was out of work, out of money and out of options the day he stood at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls.

He jumped feet first into the churning rapids, plummeted 173 feet and climbed ashore on a rock 300 feet away with two broken ribs.

The spotlight for Jones quickly faded, and he joined a circus in Hidalgo, Texas, near the Mexican border, for four months, washing elephants and taking down tents.

Still unemployed, single and almost broke, Jones is currently living in an old house in Canton, Mich., with some cronies, thinking about the odds.

e-mail: bmichelmore @buffnews.com

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