NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — The man who was lowered from a helicopter into the rushing waters of Niagara Falls on Wednesday is now talking about his dangerous mission to recover the body of a woman who drove her car into the swift rapids.
Aviation Survival Technician second class Derrian Duryea, along with his team made the one-hour flight from U.S. Coast Guard Station Detroit.
“Once we got on scene, there was obviously snow was still blowing and our biggest concern was the car’s position, was the car gonna move, what were we gonna do if I was down there and the car started to move?” Duryea said. “I was able to open the passenger side door and put myself in between the door frame and the actual car door against the current.”
From there Duryea was able to recover the body of a woman who had already been in the frigid waters for two hours and was deceased. He tells us he’s glad he could bring at least some closure to the family by recovering her body. Park Police believe she drove into the water intentionally more than a thousand feet upstream near the vehicle bridge to Goat Island.
Niagara Falls State Park Police tell News 4 that the tire tracks in the snow on Wednesday indicate that the driver drove down a walking path but then apparently backed up and drove through one of the only openings in the barriers to the upper rapids near the vehicle bridge to Goat Island.
Overnight, the car flipped and floated another 100 feet closer to the brink. The Niagara Falls State Park Operation Team is still trying to finalize plans to remove it.
Duryea has been with the Coast Guard for 10 years. Four years ago he helped lift five boaters to safety 70 miles off the coast of Florida, but yesterday was a mission all its own.
“You know, I can’t give enough credit to my crew,” he said. “They did everything right. You know it’s not all about me, it’s also about our pilots and flight mechanic. they are just as much a part of the crew as I am.”
The three other members of the Coast Guard that assisted were light mechanic Jon Finnerty, helicopter co-pilot Jake Wawrzyniak and aircraft commander Chris Monacelli.
At this time, the victim has not been positively identified through the Medical examiner’s Office.