Bobby Leach had a reputation in England as a circus stuntman. He had attracted attention to himself by announcing the intention of becoming the first person to complete the "triple challenge". This included: 1.) making a barrel trip through the rapids to the whirlpool, 2.) going over the Falls in a barrel, and 3.) parachuting from the Upper Suspension Bridge into the river upstream of the rapids. On July 1st 1908, Leach jumped off the Upper Steel Arch Bridge using a parachute to become the fourth (4th) person to do so. During the summer of 1910, Leach returned to Niagara Falls to test his barrel. He attempted to ride the barrel through the Great Gorge Rapids to the Whirlpool. Leach had attached an anchor to his barrel but it was cut loose by rocks. Leach's barrel bounced from rock to rock through the rapids before becoming stuck in an eddy in the Whirlpool. Leach was rescued by William "Red" Hill Sr.. Hill had to risk his life by swimming out to Leach's barrel and dragging it into shore. Leach was removed from the barrel unconscious. Hill Sr. climbed into the barrel and rode it through the lower rapids to Queenston. During that summer, Leach made three (3) other successful trips through the famous Whirlpool Rapids. In addition, Bobby Leach made two aborted attempts to swim across the Niagara River down river from the American Falls. On the afternoon of July 25th 1911, Bobby Leach climbed into an eight foot long steel drum at Navy Island where the current of the Niagara River veers towards the Canadian shore. The drum was released at 2:55 p.m.. It took eighteen minutes to reach the brink of the Horseshoe Falls before going over. It took 22 minutes to recover the drum. It had become stuck in the river at the base of the falls before Fred Bender (an Ontario Power Company employee) tied a rope around his waist and swam to where the barrel was. Bender tied a rope to the barrel and it was hauled to the Canadian shore. Leach was removed from the drum and rushed to the hospital suffering from two broken knee caps and a broken jaw. Twenty three weeks later, Bobby Leach left the hospital and went on tour with his barrel throughout North America and Europe. Leach did return to Niagara Falls to parachute from an airplane. On July 1st 1920, Bobby Leach jumped using a parachute from an airplane. He repeated this feat again on October 10th 1925. In both cases Leach landed in corn fields on Canadian soil near the Niagara Gorge. Records are vague as to his parachute jump. While in Niagara Falls, Bobby Leach purchased and operated a restaurant. In April of 1926, Bobby Leach died at the age of 70 years in Christchurch, New Zealand as a result of an accidental slip on an orange peel while on his daily walk. His fractured leg had become infected and was amputated. Two months later he died in hospital.

 

 

 

 

 


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