Jesse Sharp

Jessie W. Sharp, a 28-year-old bachelor from Ocoee, Tennessee tried to ride the Horseshoe Falls on a 3.6 m long kayak on June 5, 1990. Sharp was an experienced white water kayaker, unemployed at the time. Three people who accompanied Sharp to Niagara Falls on a video tape of his trip told the police that Mr. Sharp had been planning the trip for years. They also told the police that Sharp was trying to get over the Falls in the Kayak to advance his career in stunting.

The idea of Sharp was to gain enough speed in his kayak to project himself over the waterfalls and the pummeling water that would surely claim his life. He would then cross the rapids below and eventually end up four miles downstream in Lewiston. Jesse was so confident that he would make a trip that he would park his car at Artpark in Lewiston and make dinner reservations that night.

Powerhouse operators, noting what was about to unfold, diverted the water from the river in an attempt to land the kayak. But, to no avail, Jesse Sharp was determined, and he simply skirted around the rocks of his kayak. Just as Sharp reached the brink of the falls, he raised his paddle above his head and then, at 1:45 p.m., the kayak sank over the brink and vanished into the raging waters below.

Sharp didn’t wear a protective helmet to make his face visible on the film. He also did not want to wear a life jacket, believing it would interfere with his ability to escape in the event he was caught under the Falls. He intended to continue down the river through the rapids to Lewiston, New York, after “shooting the Falls.” He had made reservations for dinner there. His body was never recovered.

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