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Teen fleeing cop dies after plunge into Niagara Gorge

An 18-year-old who was running from police died after he jumped over a wall at Niagara Gorge in Canada. NBCNews.com's Alex Witt reports.

Updated at 1:01 p.m. ET: A teenager was killed when he leaped over a waist-high wall to evade a pursuing police officer, only for both to plunge more than 30 yards into Niagara Gorge.

Ryan Dube, 18, was killed and the officer with the Niagara Regional Police Service suffered a broken leg in the incident at about 5 p.m. on Tuesday, authorities said.

During the chase, both of them mistakenly hopped a retaining wall and Dube fell to his death, they said.

His body was found about three hours later after a massive rescue effort that focused on Niagara Gorge less than a mile downstream from the famed falls, authorities said.

'The kid went off the ledge'
Dube fled from the officer who stopped him for questioning regarding violations of his curfew that was a condition of his probation, said JoAnne Turner, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Niagara, Canada.

"Apparently in an effort to flee the police officer, he went over and the police officer went right after him," she said.

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Witnesses told news outlets they saw the police officer jump out of his vehicle to pursue the young man on foot.

"The kid went off the ledge, and the cop went with him," the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. quoted witness Logan Tremblay as saying.

"I ran over the ledge to see if I could grab the cop or if the cop was still on the ledge, and as I looked, the cop was going. Like I saw part of his uniform and then it disappeared," Tremblay added.

"He was pursuing the suspect but for some reason, and this is probably strange to most people around here, is why the officer would have jumped over the wall too knowing how dangerous it is there. It’s kind of a mystery," local resident Ermanno Ceniccola told Toronto's National Post newspaper.

According to Canadian law enforcement officials, the officer suffered a broken leg and was airlifted to a nearby trauma center.

The Toronto Star said Niagara police identified the officer as Const. Jacob Smits. The National Post said Smits remained hospitalized in serious condition.

"It's a very treacherous little stretch," Turner said, recalling incidents in which tourists straddle the wall for a better view of the falls before realizing the danger.

From May: Man becomes third to survive plunge at Niagara Falls

An independent investigation into the police's role in the incident will be conducted by Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, which was contacted by local police following the death in accordance with provincial law.

Dube was originally from  St. Catharines, Ontario, local reports said.

Father: He was trying to turn his life around
Turner said Dube had been staying at a local youth home, where staff said he had no behavioral trouble other than occasionally missing curfew.

"He was very well-liked by staff and residents," she said. "He was making good progress."

She said she did not know why Dube was on probation.

"It's just tragic," she said. "There's no other word to describe it."

Dube's father, Jean Paul Dube, told the Star that his son had been troubled and was in and out of jail, but was trying to turn his life around.

"He was making some good changes until this happened," he told the newspaper.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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