(photo @ wikipedia)
Leach was the owner of a restaurant on Bridge Street near Niagara Falls. When Annie Taylor went over the falls in a barrel in 1901, he would often boast that anything Annie could do...he could do better (including quoting a musical for the purpose of making a horrible pun).
Leach planned to make good on his boasting, though. His goal was to complete a death defying "triple challenge" of the falls and the Niagara River. These challenges consisted of:
- A barrel trip through the rapids to the Niagara Whirlpool.
- A barrel trip over Niagara Falls.
- A parachute jump from the Upper Suspension Bridge onto the river.
In addition to belittling a woman that had tried one of those stunts before him, Leach wanted to be known as a world class daredevil.
Only without the red tights and vision loss.
During Leach's attempt at braving the whirlpool, he became stuck and had to be rescued. Fortunately for him, he emerged from his barrel unharmed. He was not so lucky on his next task.
On July 25, 1911, Bobby Leach climbed inside of a steel barrel and successfully went over Niagara Falls...if your definition of success can also include two broken knee caps and a broken jaw.
"You see this red section? That's what is making you scream in agony."
Still, he survived. After 6 months recuperating in a hospital, Leach had fully recovered and hit the road. He toured the United States, Canada, and England, telling people about his amazing feat, posing for pictures, and most likely picking up a lot of women that had a history of making poor life decisions.
Leach also decided to attempt to swim the Niagara Gorge (which he was unable to complete) and made good on his promise to parachute from the Upper Suspension Bridge (though he landed in Canada) because he apparently had an extreme death wish and/or addiction to adrenaline.
Then in 1926, tragedy in the form of brutal, cold irony struck. While on a publicity tour in New Zealand, Bobby Leach slipped on an orange peel and fell to the ground. The four foot fall caused him to break his leg...which then became infected. After gangrene set in, Leach had to have the leg amputated.
Despite the extreme procedure to preserve his life, Bobby Leach died two months later due to complications from the injury and the resulting infection. The man that had survived a trip over Niagara Falls (along with multiple other stunts that had a high probability of death and permanent injury) had finally been bested by a piece of fruit.
So the next time you feel like complaining about having a flat tire of getting a speeding ticket, just remember that you still have your health...and your leg.
Now go celebrate being alive with a nice cold glass of orange juice
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