In September of 1989, Peter DeBernardi and Jeffrey Petkovich came to the Falls to challenge the Niagara River.
DeBernardi, 42 years old, had been planning to ride a barrel over the Falls with another friend however at the last minute, DiBernardi’s friend decided not to go. As a result DeBernardi met Petkovich, a 24 year old student of the University of Ottawa.
DeBernardi had built a $1,500 barrel, constructed of 3/16 of an inch thick steel plate measuring 3.7 m long and 137 cm in diameter. The barrel weighed 1500 pounds and had a keel for direction. In addition, the barrel had a two way radio system, ninety minutes of oxygen supply with a ballast control and a double hatch assembly. It had double Plexiglas widows so that he and Petkovich could see outside.
On September 28th 1989 at 5:30 p.m., DeBernardi and Petkovich both resting head to head inside the barrel began their journey. The barrel was launched two hundred feet from the brink of the Horseshoe Falls and only 25 seconds later, the bright yellow barrel with the inscription "Don’t Put Yourself on the Edge – Drugs Kill" went over the brink of the Falls. When recovered by the Maid of the Mist dock both DeBernardi and Petkovich were uninjured.
DeBernardi and Petkovich became the first two persons in a barrel to go over the Falls and the eleventh and twelfth persons to take the plunge.
On August 14th 1990, a second attempt to go over the Falls together was foiled by New York State Parks Police, when a patrolling Officer stopped a truck carrying DeBernardi’s ten foot diameter yellow Styrofoam ball contraption that was destined to go over the American Falls.