NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – Fifty years ago, Roger Woodward earned bragging rights as one of the few people to survive a plunge over Niagara Falls.

Not that he ever used them.

For sure, the 7-year-old miracle boy who tumbled over the brink after a boating accident is part of the colorful folklore of the Falls. His story is told in the same breath as the fame and fortune-seeking adventurers led by schoolteacher Annie Taylor’s 1901 barrel ride with her cat.

But if one thing is clear in the past 50 years, it’s that Woodward is nothing like the daredevils that followed.

On the 50th anniversary of his 162-foot drop, Woodward still wants no part of that club.

“Our story has absolutely nothing to do with anything heroic or of a daredevil-type nature,” he said during an interview from Hampton Cove, Ala., where, at age 57, he’s a semiretired real estate agent. “Those guys are in a world of their own. I frankly don’t understand it.”

Woodward and his family sought to resume normal life after he and his 17-year-old sister, Deanne Woodward, were rescued from the Niagara River after being tossed from family friend James Honeycutt’s 12-foot aluminum boat on July 9, 1960.

New Jersey tourists John Hayes and John Quattrochi pulled Deanne Woodward to shore just before the brink. Honeycutt was swept with Roger Woodward over the Horseshoe Falls and died.

“We were just two kids out with a family friend for a day on the water,” Woodward says now. “It turned tragic. A man lost his life, and quite literally by the grace of God we were thankful that my sister and I were saved.”

For 34 years, Woodward and his sister never talked about it, not even to each other. Their parents thought it best they move on.

But Woodward remembers the immediate interest from the outside world was overwhelming, so much so that his father hooked the family’s trailer to a truck and moved in the dead of night from Niagara Falls.

These days, Woodward will good-naturedly retell the story.

Reporters call on anniversaries or when Niagara Falls is in the headlines, like in 2003 when a Michigan auto parts salesman survived an attempted suicide. Until them, Woodward was the only person known to have survived an unprotected plunge.

He marked the 50th anniversary by listening with his wife, Susan Woodward, to a rebroadcast of a radio special about the accident.

“To this day, every time I hear the story I can smell the water,” he said.

For Woodward, the worst part was the brutal ride through suffocating whitewater where he was tossed from Honeycutt’s boat after it struck something, became disabled and was pulled into the powerful rapids.

“This water looks like it’s as big as a house with the waves and the rocks,” he says.

He doesn’t remember hitting bottom. He may have been protected from the rocks by what’s known as a water cone, a formation that bursts from the surface after water and air drop with such force, Niagara Falls historian Paul Gromosiak said.

“It’s like a hand reaching out,” Gromosiak explained. “It had to be that — or a miracle.”

“Miracle” was what the newspaper headlines declared over black-and-white photos of the blonde, blue-eyed boy clinging to a life ring before being pulled onto the Maid of the Mist tour boat, which was nearby when he bobbed to the surface at the churning base. He looks as though he’s smiling — but he was in shock.

“I’m scared absolutely to death,” he says.

All these years later, it’s difficult to say how that moment may have affected the life of the carpenter’s son.

It was his first boat ride and could have been his last. Instead, Woodward developed a love of boating, became a certified diver, even joined the Navy during the Vietnam War. But you won’t find him on the upper Niagara with a 7.5-horsepower motor like the one that powered Honeycutt’s boat.

“I’m a person of common sense and very safety minded,” he said.