NIAGARA FALLS – The body of a 37-year-old man who had been trying to re-enter the United States at the Rainbow Bridge was recovered Wednesday night from the Niagara River gorge, said New York State Park Police.
“He was trying to circumvent customs and had climbed over the wall when he fell 100 feet into the gorge,” said Detective Sgt. Brian Nisbitt.
“He lacked legal status in the United States,” Nisbitt said.
Police said the man was observed around 8:40 p.m. Wednesday taking photographs of the falls before he fell into the gorge.
Officers from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection received notification that a male was attempting to climb the fence on the Rainbow Bridge pedestrian walkway and had fallen to the ground below.
“That terrain is very rocky and covered with trees and other vegetation. It’s a straight drop,” Nisbitt said.
Members of the Park Police Gorge Rescue and the Niagara Falls Fire and Rescue teams responded to the call, said Sgt. John Mikula of State Park Police.
The man’s body was discovered in an area that is not accessible to the public. “There are no trails leading into or out of the area,” said Nisbitt.
The Rainbow Bridge was closed to traffic during at least part of the search.
Police, who identified the victim as a citizen of Mexico, were not releasing his name pending notification of his family.
“We’ve had people attempt to cross the bridge and sneak into our country before,” Mikula said. “There are cameras everywhere along the bridge.”
An autopsy is scheduled for later Thursday.
The investigation is ongoing.