On July 9, 1960, Roger Woodward, age seven, and his seventeen-year-old sister Deanna, went for a boat ride. They were guests of Jim Honeycutt, a friend from Niagara Falls, New York, who took them out on the Niagara River, somewhere above the falls.
The fun stopped when the boat developed motor trouble and the current began carrying them downstream. As Jim struggled to start the engine, they began wobbling in the choppy water, and the boat suddenly capsized, catapulting all three into the river.
Jim was instantly swept away and, in a moment of horror, flew over the falls and was killed, his body washing ashore four days later. Deanna was plucked from the river about twenty feet from the edge of the Falls by two tourists from New Jersey.
But Roger, wearing only swimming trunks and an orange life preserver, was too far from the banks of the river to be rescued.
Thrashing frantically in the current, he saw the spray from the falls rushing toward him, but he was helpless to stop himself or even to slow down. As horrified passers-by watched, he plunged through water and mist and air, caught in the thunderous power of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, toppling downward, head over heels, into the abyss.
The “Maid of the Mist” tourist boat was just turning away from the Falls when the crew spotted a tiny orange speck, bobbing in the basin of the falls. Closer inspection revealed a stunned, crying boy. Workers pulled Roger from the water, and he was rushed to the hospital where he remained three days with a slight concussion before being released.
Thirty years passed and Roger Woodward returned to Niagara Falls to give his testimony at the Glengate Alliance Church. The audience was hushed as he told his miraculous story, the panic he felt as he drifted helplessly toward the precipice, the anger he felt because no one on the shoreline could help him, the flashbacks he experienced as he inwardly said goodbye to his parents and his dog and his toys.
“It wasn’t the hand of fate (that saved me),” he told the church. “It wasn’t the hand of luck. It was the Spirit of the Living God that saved my life that day and saved my sister and gave us hope that one day we could come to know Him.”
Robert J. Morgan,