Kevin R. Caffery helped to save a woman from drowning, Niagara Falls, New York, August 25, 1999. In a suicide attempt, a woman entered the Niagara River above Niagara Falls and was seen in the rapids off Goat Island at a point about 500 feet from the brink of Horseshoe Falls. Although she had been spotted by helicopter crew members of the aviation unit of that county’s sheriff’s department, the unit was not equipped for water rescue. The aviation unit of a neighboring county’s sheriff’s department deployed one of its helicopters, which was equipped with pontoons. Piloting that craft, Caffery, 52, deputy sheriff, flew to the scene in waning daylight, accompanied by one of the deputy sheriffs from the earlier flight crew. Using a searchlight, they found the woman sitting atop a submerged rock and holding to a branch of a tree growing out of an exposed mound about 100 feet off the island. Caffery lowered the helicopter to water level just downstream of the woman, holding the craft by one pontoon against a submerged rock and working to stabilize it further against the extremely swift current by opening the throttle to full power. Untethered to the craft, lest his movement upset it, the other deputy stepped from the helicopter into waist-deep water and waded through the rapids toward the woman. Stopping short of her at the edge of what appeared to be deeper water, he gestured to the woman to release her hold of the tree and be taken by the current to him. The woman did so, and the deputy caught her. He waded back to the helicopter, pulling the woman, then got her aboard it. After the deputy reboarded the craft, Caffery lifted off and flew to safety. The woman was taken to a hospital for treatment.
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