Ever wondered how it feels like jumping from a 180 feet high waterfall knowing that the depth is of river down there is more than waterfall above. Of course never, but there is a person who had done this suicidal act and surprisingly he lived. You might be wondering who could be that adventurous man. There are many crazy people who do deadly stunts knowing that they may die, he was one of them. His name was Karel Soucek.
Karel Soucek was born in Czechoslovakia on April 19, 1947. He moved to Canada. His source of income was the stunts he used to perform. He lived in Hamilton, Ontario (province of Canada).
Before performing the stunt at Niagara Falls, he had already performed several stunts which were risky enough. His early life stunts were jumping bikes over cars.
On July 22, 1976, Karel Soucek tried a death-dealing stunt when he attempted to cross the whirlpool on a speed limited bike (moped), by the aid of cables of Spanish Aero Car. Although this attempt was failed, his life was saved because of safety harness he was wearing.
A stuntman’s life is a little different from our life. Some of times we leave the things which we can’t do at our ease but passion of doing stunts is multiplied when a stuntman lose. On June 11, 1977 Karel Soucek again tried to make a trip from whirlpool rapids, this time he did it in a barrel. He was stuck in the rapids for almost 3 hours but then he was rescued. Although he was fined for performing a stunt without any kind of license.
Last of Niagara daredevils:
He used to call him last of Niagara daredevils. July 2nd 1984, was the day when Karel Soucek did his stunt of passing a waterfall in a homemade barrel. This barrel was specially designed with fiber glass mouldings on either end, and it was also insulated with the liquid form. The length and diameter of barrel was 2.7m and 1.5m respectively. Capsule shaped barrel had a snorkel for breathing and two eye holes to see. He prepared for stunt by sending many unmanned barrel down the Niagara Falls. He also dropped his barrel by Niagara escarpment in Hamilton to take a test of shock absorbers in the barrel. He colored his barrel red and wrote these words on it “Last of the Niagara Daredevils – 1984” and “It’s not whether you fail or triumph, it’s that you keep your word and at least try”. He almost spent $ 15,000 in preparation of this stunt and spent $ 30,000 to record the stunt. He was 37 years old when he did this stunt.
In morning around 9:30am, four people pushed the barrel having karel Soucek inside it from the back side of truck 164 yards above of the Niagara Falls along the Canadian shore. His barrel moved with a velocity of 75 mile/s and it took him approximately 3.2 seconds to fall from shore. The barrel bounced for 45 minutes over the rocks and on base of Niagara Falls. Fortunately Soucek had enough oxygen with him that kept him alive. He was rescued and all he faced were some cuts and bruises. It was like dream coming true for Soucek to pass the falls. He was moved to Greater Niagara General Hospital. He was discharged but Niagara Falls provincial courts fined him $ 500 for the stunt without any kind of license. He earned more money than he invested through interviews and fame he got. After being successful he decided to build a museum to show his stunting equipments. His barrel was taken by authorities. On September 20, 1984 in an interview with Letterman, karel said that he did 8 years of research for this stunt. He also searched about people who tried to do this stunt before him.
Karel Soucek after succeeding his stunt once, he tried to redo it on January 19, 1985 six months later in Houston, Astrodome. But this time he was not fortunate enough. He was enclosed in a barrel, 180 feet above the ground. He was going to perform this stunt in front of 45,000 spectators. He was supposed to drop in a water tank of diameter 12m and a depth of 9m. The barrel was released before and it started spinning which changed the aim of barrel and unfortunately it hits the rim of tank and scattered. Karel soucek was severely injured but still alive. He died while the stunt show was going on. The death of karel was not announced to the audience in Astrodome. His friend and fellow stuntman Evel Kenievel tried to stop him and calling stunt “the most dangerous I’ve ever seen”.
Soucek is buried in Drummond Hill cemetery in Niagara Falls, Ontario.