George A. Stathakis lived in Buffalo, New York where he worked as a chef after emigrating from Greece. He was 46 years old and a bachelor when he made the decision to go over the falls in a barrel. He hoped that the revenue that such a trip would generate could be used towards the publication of his books on metaphysical experiences.
With the help of some of his friends George set about building a massive barrel made of wood and steel. Ten feet long and over 5 ft. in diameter, George had been previously warned by Red Hill Sr. that the barrel was too big and heavy, weighing nearly a ton.
On July 5th, 1930 George Stathakis, along with his pet turtle Sonny took the plunge over the falls. His barrel would survive the ride, relatively unscathed, but would be caught behind the falls for over twenty hours.
When finally the barrel was recovered George Stathakis was dead, apparently suffocated. His pet turtle Sonny, believed to be 150 years old, had miraculously survived the trip.
The barrel where George Stathaki met his untimely death is on display in Niagara Falls.
Of all the barrels to go over the falls, George Stathakis's barrel was the only one to become held up behind the falls. Perhaps the massive barrel that Mr. Stathakis thought would protect him from harm actually contributed to his death.