05/21/2012 07:04 EDT | Updated 07/21/2012 05:12 EDT

Niagara Falls plunge survivor in stable condition

A man who is one of the rare survivors of a plunge into Niagara Falls is in stable condition in Hamilton General Hospital after a dramatic rescue on Victoria Day.

The man had climbed a retaining wall above the Horseshoe Falls at about 10:30 a.m. ET on Monday, witnesses told police.

"He did so on his own accord, and jumped into the Niagara River," said Sgt. Chris Gallagher of the Niagara Parks Police Service.

He survived the 57-metre plunge, and his condition was upgraded to stable, Hamilton General Hospital confirmed.

The man surfaced in the river near an observation platform at the Journey Behind the Falls, a series of tunnels near the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the river, Gallagher said.

Gallagher, who was the first rescuer on the scene, said he climbed down to the shoreline, where he found the man waist deep in water. The man's injuries were severe, so Gallagher called for assistance.

The man was lifted from the shoreline by Niagara Falls firefighters just after noon and taken by air ambulance to Hamilton General.

The man is only the fourth person known to have survived a plunge without a protective device. The others are:

- July 1960: A seven-year-old boy who survived wearing only a life-jacket and his bathing suit.

- October 2003: An unemployed Michigan auto-parts salesman.

- March 2009: An unidentified Canadian man.