Roger and Deanna Woodword
April 12, 2019
Roger and Deanna Woodword

It was a sunny afternoon on July 9th, 1960 when what became known as the "Miracle of Niagara" took place. 40 year old Jim Honeycutt from Michigan invited his coworkers two children to go with him for a boat ride. 7 year old Roger Woodward and 17 year old Deanna Woodward accompanied Jim Honeycutt in the 14 foot aluminum boat, while the children's parents remained on shore. Intent on giving them a fun ride, Honeycutt navigated the boat down the friendly upper Niagara River to where it changed character and quickly became a foe. He got into the upper rapids and hit a rock, broke a shear pin, and the motor became disabled. Roger had his life jacket on and Deanna quickly put hers on. As they floated on, they soon passed the point of no return. In the raging rapids, the boat capsized and the three were plunged into the water. The current of the river together with her ability to swim, brought seventeen-year-old Deanna close to the American shore on Goat Island. Two tourists from New Jersey, unknown to each other, John R Hayes and John Quattrochi, saw her plight and sprang into action. Risking their lives, they went over the guardrail. Reaching out, one took hold of her thumb and the other her wrist, to pull her up on shore to safety. Jim Honeycutt and Roger Woodward were swept over Niagara Falls. The body of Jim Honeycutt was recovered four days later. 7 year old Roger Woodward was picked up alive by the Maid of the Mist boat. His bright orange life jacket was spotted by the crew. Captain Clifford Keech maneuvered his boat into position for a life preserver to be thrown within reach of the boy. Lifted up to safety, he was surrounded by all the passengers on deck. Roger asked about the safety of his sister and for something to drink. He was taken to Niagara Falls General Hospital where he was treated for a slight concussion. With only a cut on her hand, Diana was driven to a hospital in Niagara Falls, New York where she learned of her younger brother’s fate. Roger later recalled ,"For me there was pure panic, I was scared to death. I was being bounced around in the water like a toy. I became angry at seeing people on the shore and wondering why they wouldn't come out and rescue me." After the fear and anger, then came peace. "There was a time when I thought I was going to die and my 7 years of life literally passed before me and I started thinking what my parents would do with my dog and my toys and had really given up at that point and I felt I was going to die that afternoon." Reflecting on his extraordinary experience years later, Roger Woodward said,"It wasn't the hand of fate, it wasn't the hand of luck, it wasn't the spirit of Lelawala, it was the spirit of the living God that saved my life that day and save my sister and gave us hope that one day we would come to know Him."

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