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Roger Woodward Reflects on Gift of Life

Source: Niagara Falls Review

If it was a suicide attempt, hopefully the man who went over the Horseshoe Falls on Wednesday in Niagara Falls will be able to get the help he needs, said Roger Woodward, the man who survived a plunge over the mighty cataract 49 years ago.

“If it is a suicide attempt, I think it is very tragic,” said Woodward, who now lives in Huntsville, Ala., and sells real estate.

“The very first thought that went through my mind is that I’m dealing with a family member who has cancer and we are hoping she can survive and live. Then when you see someone who might be at a point in their life where they see life isn’t worth living, obviously it’s an extreme contrast and you hope they can get help to resolve that problem.”

Woodward was only seven years old when he became the first person to go over the Horseshoe Falls and survive, wearing only a life jacket and a bathing suit, on Saturday, July 9, 1960.

The headline in the Monday edition of The Niagara Falls Review called it: Niagara Miracle: Boy Cheats Falls.

Woodward, and his 17-year-old sister Deanne, were out for a boat ride with a family friend, James Honeycutt.

The engine on their boat developed a problem and lost power about half a mile away from the brink of the Horseshoe Falls. The 12-foot aluminum boat overturned and the three of them ended up in the water.

There were only two life preservers in the boat. The children had them on.

Deanne was rescued by John R. Hayes, a truck driver and auxiliary policeman from Union, N. J., who climbed the guardrail and kept yelling at her to swim.

Deanne managed to grab Hayes by the thumb and he was able to pull her out of the water.

Roger ended up going over the Horseshoe Falls and survived while Honeycutt was swept to his death.

Woodward, 56, said he believes in the statement “walk a mile in my shoes” before you have an opinion, but regardless of the circumstances, “life is wonderful, it’s a gift and nothing is worth taking your own life.”

Woodward, who was in the ministry years ago for a short period of time, said his spiritual convictions have not changed at all, but he soon found out that the Lord had other plans for him.

In September 1990, Woodward returned to Niagara Falls with his family and was a guest speaker at Glengate Church.

He told the audience he remembered the incident “like an old home movie.”

He recalled “being bounced around like a toy. First there was panic and then it turned to anger. I could not understand why no one was coming to get us. There was a time I thought I was going to die. My short life did pass before me.”

Woodward was picked up by a Maid of the Mist boat and taken to hospital for observation. His only complaint was a sore leg muscle.

Woodward said the one lesson that he has learned from his experience is that life is precious and it should not be taken for granted.

“It’s only by the grace of God that we lived while another man died, which was really tragic.”

He noted that every breath we take is a gift from God, we should be thankful for it, live our lives to the fullest by doing the right things and appreciate life.

W oodward said there’s no

guarantee how long we are going to be here or what day or event will end our life.

Now employed in the real estate business, Woodward said he has never tried to exploit what happened to him 49 years ago. Most people don’t know that’s what happened to him and many of those who were around at the time have now passed away.

Read the whole article at Niagara Falls Review

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6 Responses
  1. Veronica says:

    I seen something about this on the news (the most recent). Woodward’s story is amazing. He’s right, and he’s living proof, that we aren’t the ones in control of our destiny.

  2. that we aren’t the ones in control of our destiny!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Charlie Honeycutt says:

    I have been told about this from my father when I was just a kid. This was my uncle James (JD.) Honeycutt. My dad told me that his brother had died trying to save others.

  4. Josh says:

    That is a very tragic story. I live from a different region so I haven’t heard of it before.

  5. vijay says:

    He is a very lucky person to survive out of this.

  6. Carol Conklin says:

    I had the opportunity to tour the Falls a couple of years ago.
    Unless you have been there, you will never understand what this child had been through!
    I never realized the intensity of the water going over the Falls until I took the tour “Behind the Falls” It is truly a thunder you will not forget. As I read the articles celebrating this event, I could actually feel that thunder again!
    Not many have lived to tell of their experience of free-falling over the Falls

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