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Man killed in Niagara Gorge fall was 'well-liked' at youth residence

A young man who plunged to his death Tuesday in the Niagara Gorge was staying at a group home while trying to get his life back on track, a youth organization said Wednesday.

The 18-year-old, whose name hasn't been released, was "well-liked" at the Boys and Girls Club residence where he had lived on and off since last year, the organization's executive director said.

"He was always very respectful and polite," with no incidents of violence, JoAnne Turner said. "He'll be missed. It's such a tragedy."

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The man left the home shortly after 5 p.m. and authorities said a police officer started chasing him sometime after then.

That's when both went over a retaining wall and fell about 30 metres into the gorge in Niagara Falls.

The province's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, said the man died of injuries from the fall, while the police officer broke his leg.

Ms. Turner said she doesn't know what triggered the chase but noted the man was on probation.

She said he was looking for work and hoped to eventually live on his own.

The area where the pair fell is "so treacherous" despite the waist-height retaining wall, Ms. Turner said

"In some places you can climb over that wall and be on solid ground for metres, but in certain spots it's a straight drop down the gorge," she said.

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The SIU is looking into the incident and said Wednesday it won't discuss what happened until the probe is complete.

A spokeswoman for the agency said relatives have asked that the man's name not be released to the public.

Firefighters pulled both from the gorge around 9 p.m. after reportedly rappelling down the steep embankment.

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