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Coast Guard swimmer opens up about Niagara Falls rescue mission

Click to play video: 'Coast Guard swimmer opens up about water rescues' Coast Guard swimmer opens up about water rescues
WATCH: On Wednesday, members of the U.S. Coast Guard responded to an urgent call on the Niagara River, metres from the American falls. Shallima Maharaj reports. – Dec 9, 2021

On Wednesday, Dec. 8, Derrian Duryea was lowered from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter into the biting cold rapids of the Niagara River.

It was a swiftwater rescue unlike anything the Michigan-based crew of four had dealt with before.

A black vehicle sat precariously in the water, submerged meters from the brink of the American side of the falls.

The seasoned helicopter rescue swimmer says they got the call at around 12:30 pm. They were already heading up for a training flight at Lake St. Clair near Detroit.

Read more: 1 dead after vehicle discovered floating down the Niagara River in New York State

“It took us about an hour transit to get out there, and on our route, going past London, we hit a pretty good snowstorm with about half a mile visibility and 600-foot ceilings,” he told Global News.

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Formerly a competitive swimmer and lifeguard, Duryea, 28, has been with the Coast Guard for over a decade.

“One of the big things for the aircraft was the mist from the falls was actually coming back on the aircraft and actually causing us to ice over fairly quickly,” Duryea said.

“And our aircraft does not have any de-icing capability. So that’s a very big factor for us when we’re executing a case.”

Click to play video: 'Car that entered Niagara River believed to be intentional: police' Car that entered Niagara River believed to be intentional: police
Car that entered Niagara River believed to be intentional: police – Dec 9, 2021

Water levels on the river were lowered by the Power Authority, and drones and a Niagara County Sheriff helicopter were deployed.

The decision was made to perform a direct deployment, essentially lowering Duryea to within two to three feet of the vehicle.

He was able to get inside the vehicle from the passenger side, noting that the doors were unlocked.

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Using a quick strap, he was able to remove a woman in her 60s from the vehicle. She was pronounced deceased on site.

While New York State Park Police say the investigation is ongoing, they revealed Thursday that the vehicle’s entry into the river “appears to be an intentional act.”

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