White Water Rafting

August 29th 1975

A thirty-seven foot long air inflated rubber and nylon raft, belonging to Niagara Gorge River Trips Inc., was carrying twenty-seven tourist and two pilots. The raft capsized in the Whirlpool Rapids throwing everyone into the wild churning white water. Three passengers died from drowning, and the other twenty-six survived this ordeal.

The accident occurred during the 11th trial run of this raft tour through the Niagara River rapids. The raft had departed from the Maid of the Mist dock at the base of the Prospect Point Tower and was about two miles downstream of a five mile route to Lewiston, New York. The three dead persons were identified as: Julia Martinez, of Toronto; David Ross, of Toronto and Anthony Sawczyk, of Niagara Falls, New York. Three of the survivors were admitted to the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center with serious injuries. Each of the passengers had paid fee of $20 for this journey. The youngest passenger was 16 years old and the oldest was 52 years old. Four of the passengers were women.

To further add to this tragedy, one man, piloting a 22 foot – 250 horsepower jet boat died of a heart attack while attempting to recover this raft from the Whirlpool Niagara Gorge River Trips Inc. was the predecessor of the now defunct White Water Tour Company which pioneered white water rafting in the Niagara River with near tragic consequences. In July of 1972, during a trial run, six passengers were thrown into the water of the Whirlpool Rapids. On August 5th 1972, during its maiden commercial voyage, a pontoon broke away from the raft and a passenger was plunged into the rapids. On August 13th 1972, seven people riding through the Whirlpool Rapids were thrown overboard. Luckily no fatalities were reported. The company ceased operations on August 13th 1972.

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