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Niagara Falls Jet Boat Capsizes, Throwing Seven Into Water

May 28, 1990 GMT

QUEENSTON, Ontario (AP) _ A controversial tour boat capsized Sunday in rapids a few hundred yards below Niagara Falls, throwing seven people into the cold waters of the Niagara River.

No one aboard the 23-foot jet boat was seriously hurt, according to Niagara Parks Police Constable Steve Kelly. Two people, including a Yugoslavian tourist, were treated at Greater Niagara General Hospital for hypothermia and released, a nursing supervisor said.

Three passengers on the Jet Boat International tour swam to safety on the U.S. side of the river below the bridge connecting Queenston and Lewiston, N.Y.

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″We hit the (rapids) and we then came back again to have another go at it and that’s when we went over,″ passenger John Swan said.

The company started its Niagara River tours two weeks ago despite warnings from U.S. and Canadian authorities it would not be safe.

Swan, president of a winery in nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake, said he didn’t know what caused the accident.

″All of a sudden I was under the boat,″ he said. ″I gradually made my way to the shore ...″

Canadian and U.S. rescue teams and a tourist helicopter company helped rescue the seven people.

Jet Boat International owner Jim McLean declined to comment on the accident.

When Jet Boat International started its excursions for ″thrill-seekers,″ a senior marine surveyor for the Canadian Coast Guard said he was skeptical about whether the waters were safe enough to navigate.

Canadian and American law prohibit anyone from launching boats into the Niagara River from public lands, but the company got around the regulation by launching its craft from a private yacht club.

The company is the first to operate tours on the river since three people were killed in 1975.