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Distraught man in Niagara River talked back onto shore

NIAGARA FALLS – A man who was threatening to kill himself waded into the Niagara River at the third and smallest of the Three Sisters Islands on Saturday afternoon, but was talked back onto land after about 20 minutes.

The man was taken to the mental health unit of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center after being talked to in the water by Sgt. Patrick Moriarty of the New York State Parks Police.

The man was about 30 years old and lives in Niagara Falls, said Moriarty, adding that he appeared to have had been drinking.

He climbed over a waist-high railing to get into the water, which became more easily accessible after a brush-clearing and improvement project completed last summer on the islands.

“If there’s a will, there’s a way. You could put a 10-foot fence there and if they really want to go, they’re going to go,” Moriarty said.

The Three Sisters are located off the southern shore of Goat Island, about 500 yards from the brink of the Horseshoe Falls.

The man, wearing a sweatshirt and long pants, a Chicago Bulls cap and sunglasses, waded into the water up to his shins at about 2:20 p.m. “He was probably five to 10 yards offshore,” said Moriarty, adding that the current was strong.

“He was standing in the edge of the white water,” Moriarty said. “I went out into the water to negotiate with him. After talking with him for probably 15 to 20 minutes, I got him to shake hands and then we brought him in.”

Asked the reason for the suicide attempt, Moriarty said, “He’s got family problems. That’s all I can say.” He would not release the man’s name.

Once safely on the island, he was placed on a gurney and wheeled to a waiting Rural/Metro ambulance. Family members were nearby. Moriarty said the man was not injured other than suffering from possible hypothermia from standing in the cold water.

The ambulance became stuck in a muddy median between two roads on Goat Island for about 15 minutes before it was winched out by a Parks Police truck.

Parks Police, Niagara Falls police and fire personnel and counselor Jim Swift of Niagara County Crisis Services also were on the scene.