Karel Soucek was a 37 yr old stuntman from Hamilton Ontario. Prior to his trip over the falls he had performed stunts such as jumping motorcycles over cars. He had also previously tried to cross the Whirlpool Rapids on a moped using the lines from the Spanish Aerocar. In 1976.
His attempt was thwarted when his moped hit a metal bolt on the cable. If not for his safety harness Soucek would have surely perished that day.
Early on the morning of July 2, 1984 an unimposing cube van pulled up to a retaining wall above the falls, and several men quickly went to work.
A plywood ramp was leaned against the retaining wall, and the barrel quickly slid into the river only 164 yds above the Horseshoe Falls.
Forty five minutes after Soucek's barrel was seen edging over the brink his companions were able to secure the barrel and release it's occupant.
His 2.7m long 1.5m diameter cylindrical-shaped barrel with fibreglass mouldings at either end was insulated with liquid foam. Equipped with a snorkel for breathing and two eye holes to look out, his trip took approximately 3.2 seconds. But he then became trapped in dangerous waters below the Falls inside his bright red barrel. After 45 minutes he was rescued by his ground crew, suffering cuts and bruises, an injury to his left arm and a chipped tooth. He was fined $500 for his stunt.
Barely six months latter, Soucek attempted to repeat his harrowing plunge over the falls at the Houston Astrodome by dropping himself, inside a wooden barrel, 180 ft. into a 10 foot pool of water.
Unfortunately for Karel Soucek the barrel hit the edge of the pool and Soucek succumbed to injuries he suffered in the fall. His tombstone reads "IT IS NOT WHETHER YOU FAIL OR TRIUMPH, IT'S THAT YOU KEEP YOUR WORD AND AT LEAST TRY."