George A. Stathakis lived in Buffalo, New York, where, after emigrating from Greece, he worked as a chef. When he made the decision to go across the falls in a barrel, he was 46 years old and a bachelor. He hoped that the revenue generated by such a trip could be used for publishing his books on metaphysical experiences.
With the help of some of his friends, George set out to build a massive barrel of wood and steel. Ten feet long and more than five feet in diameter, George had previously been warned by Red Hill Sr. that the barrel was too big and too heavy to weigh almost a ton.
On July 5, 1930, George Stathakis, along with his pet turtle Sonny, stumbled over the falls. His barrel would have survived the ride, relatively unscathed, but he would have been caught behind the falls for more than twenty hours.
When the barrel was finally recovered, George Stathakis was dead, apparently suffocated. His pet turtle Sonny, believed to be 150 years old, had miraculously survived the journey.
The barrel of George Stathaki’s untimely death is on display in the Niagara Falls.
Of all the barrels to go over the fall, George Stathakis’ barrel was the only one to be held up behind the fall. Perhaps the massive barrel that Mr. Stathakis thought would protect him from harm had actually contributed to his death.