Mystery surrounds stunt that ends in death at Niagara Falls

Posted at 2:27 PM, Jun 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-29 10:18:39-04

In 2003, Kirk Jones became the first person to go over the Horseshoe Falls unaided and survive without any sort of flotation device.

But in early June, Jones' body was recovered from the Lower Niagara River after what police said appeared to be a failed attempt by Jones to go over the Falls again on April 19, 2017.

We are now learning more about the failed stunt.

New York State Park Police released a picture showing an 8-foot plastic ball that investigators say was brought to the water's edge along Goat Island by Kirk Jones and a friend from Michigan.  It is believed Jones was planning to go over the falls inside the ball, taking with him a boa constrictor snake named "Misty."

The friend left Jones with the device and the snake after he thought the stunt was too dangerous.  That unidentified person was not arrested but police say he could still face charges because the end result was a death.

Investigators discovered that Jones was taking steps to mark the planned historic event by selling T-shirts on his website saying "Kirk Jones + Misty Conquer Niagara Falls NY 2017."  The website has since been taken down.

However, something went wrong.  Jones was killed and the whereabouts of the snake are now unknown.

Park Police tell 7 Eyewitness News they have recovered Jones' minivan with a snake cage and some of his belongings inside.  They also have the large inflatable plastic ball that went over the American Falls and was retrieved by the Maid of the Mist.

At first, police were not sure where the large plastic ball had come from, or if it had blown out of someone's yard.  A call from Jones' wife changed that.  She told police that she had not heard from her husband since he called to say he was doing a stunt at Niagara Falls and asking her to wish him luck.

In addition to the plastic ball, a crashed drone was located on Goat Island that was registered to the daredevil.  

Detectives think Jones may have been trying to fly the aerial camera with a wrist controller.  Unfortunately, it offers no clues to the final minutes of Jones' life -  showing only the swirling rapids for just under three minutes before the drone crashes.

Watching the investigation closely is the Niagara County Historical Society, which keeps files on the 40+ daredevils who have attempted stunts at the Falls since 1829.

Florida daredevil Kirk Jones now has a new entry in the history books as he becomes the 9th person killed attempting to perform a stunt at Niagara Falls.

History shows that air-cushioned devices don't hold-up well for stunts at the falls.

In 1951, Red Hill Jr. was killed attempting to go over the Falls in a similar device created with inflated inner tubes - even though friends warned him the attempt was suicide.

NYS Park Police Detective Sergeant Brian Nisbet said no one is sure if Jones got into the ball, fell out, slipped into the river, or had problems with the snake becoming unruly.  

Regardless, Nisbet said it was Jones' reckless actions that led to his death and it should be a warning to others who are considering doing something similar.