Falls survivor remembers the event that changed his life

The only person to survive being accidentally swept over the Horseshoe Falls, was back at the Falls today. Roger Woodward was only 7 years old when he plunged over the Falls wearing only a life jacket for protection. Lauran Sabourin spoke to Woodward today about the miraculous event that changed his life forever.There is a picture of 7 year old Roger Woodward in July 1960, just moments after he was plunged over the Horseshoe Falls. Going over The Falls in a sensation he will never forget. “I had the sensation of floating. I guess it would be vertigo. I couldn’t tell if I was up or down. I never had butterflies in my stomach…it wasn’t like a roller coaster or anything like that…it was just floating.” Minutes earlier Roger was feeling sheer terror. The aluminum boat he and his sister Deanne and a family friend were in hit a rock. It knocked out the engine and the boat capsized. “I remember being thrown into the air like a rag doll, and coming down solid against a rock.”And then he was swept over the brink. At the base of The Falls everything went dark. And then he saw an outline of a boat. “It was the maid of the mist. Captain Clifford Keech was the skipper.” Roger was battered and bruised and screaming for help. On the third attempt he was able to grab the life ring. “As soon as they laid me on the deck I was yelling ‘my sister, my sister – you’ve got to find Deanne and Jim’”Roger spent three days at Greater Niagara General Hospital. He had a concussion, he couldn’t walk.Jim, the family friend was swept over the falls and died. Roger’s sister Deanne was carried by the rapids and pulled to safety by a tourist just six metres from the brink. “With his instruction telling me ‘please, come to me girl’ – and it was strong, and I heard it. It was a miracle to my ears. I could respond, I wanted to go to that man” recalls Deanne, who was in Niagara Falls with her brother today.People told them God must have something special planned for their lives. “I searched for 20 years to try to answer that question” says Roger. “At age 27, I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior. I realized then that I was saved that day because God knew 20 years later I would come to know him as my savior. For that I’m so grateful that Deanne and I lived.”Roger and Deanne see their survival at The Falls as a miracle. For 34 years they hadn’t talked about their ordeal. For them just being near The Falls brings back all of the sensations they felt that day 55 years ago.Roger Woodward will be the guest speaker this Friday at the Niagara Falls Prayer Breakfast. It’s at Club Italia on Montrose Road. Doors open at 6 a-m.

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