An unidentified man believed to be around 40 years old became only the third or fourth person ever to survive an unprotected plunge into Niagara Falls yesterday morning.

The man reportedly leapt into the waters above Horseshoe Falls, and could not be rescued prior to the 180-foot drop. He sustained serious injuries, including broken bones and a collapsed lung, but is expected to survive.

"He was very lucky," said Niagara Falls Fire Department platoon chief Dan Orescanin. "One thing that helped get him to shore — he just happened to come down the river into an eddy, and that enabled him to get out. If he had been in the main current, he wouldn't have survived."

Niagara Parks Police Sgt. Chris Gallagher told a local TV station he believes not surviving was precisely the man's intent. "Based on witness statements and surveillance video, it doesn't appear in any way, shape, or form that this was anything other than a suicide attempt," he told Buffalo's WIVB.

As many as two people a week attempt to commit suicide by jumping into the waterfalls.

Though Niagara Falls historian Paul Gromosiak claims the man is the fourth to survive a ride down the falls without safety equipment, others say he is actually the third.

Roger Woodward, who fell down the Falls in 1960 after his boat capsized, was wearing a life vest at the time, which some record keepers may consider "protective gear," thus leaving him out of the survivor count.

[photo via AP]