Divers searched the water below Niagara Falls on Monday, searching for a Toronto-area woman who is believed to be dead after toppling over a railing and into the water a day before.
Niagara Parks Police said the incident happened at about 8:30 p.m. when two female international students were taking photos on the Canadian side of the falls.
Trouble arose when one of the women, said to be 19 years old and a citizen of Japan, climbed onto the concrete ledge next to Horseshoe Falls to pose for a picture.
Police said the woman was sitting with her legs straddling the barrier. When she attempted to stand up again, she lost her footing and fell into the water below.
Kari Wilson, a visitor from Vancouver, told reporters, "I wish I could have done something." She wiped tears from her eyes as she spoke.
The victim had been sitting casually on a stone part of the fencing and chatting with her friend, she said. "Her purse was sitting right behind her and I thought, 'Well, that's a stupid place to keep your purse,'" Wilson said.
Minutes later, the woman plunged into the Niagara River, about 24 metres upstream from the top of the falls.
The current quickly swept her over the 54-metre-high falls.
Emergency crews, including a provincial police helicopter, spent most of Monday searching for the woman with no success. Police told CTV Toronto that it could be weeks before a body is found.
Authorities say the woman is believed to have drowned. Foul play is not suspected in connection with her fall.
The Japanese consulate in Toronto has been asked to contact the victim's family in Japan.
Despite the death, officials spent Monday telling people not to stand up and lean over the railing. One young woman told CTV Toronto she just wanted a quick picture.
Niagara Parks Police Chief Douglas Kane said the woman's fall is a sober reminder that risking one's life for a photograph isn't worth it.
"If you're a young adult and you choose to climb over a restraining barrier, unfortunately there's consequences...in this case they were tragic," he said.
In his 35 years on the job, however, Kane said this is the first time he recalls someone falling.
The incident comes a day after a 27-year-old man survived a fall into the Niagara Gorge, just north of the Rainbow Bridge.
The London, Ont. man fell into the Gorge after trying to get a better view of Niagara Falls with his friends. He suffered a head injury and a serious leg fracture.