Body of missing NC hiker found, rescue squad member killed during search

State - Regional

Crews work to retrieve victim from Whitewater Falls, May 6, 2020 (From: Kelly Donaldson, Jackson County Public Information Officer)

JACKSON CO., NC (WSPA) – A member of a Jackson County rescue squad was killed when he fell during a search for a missing person at a North Carolina waterfall whose body has since been found.

The searches began Monday around 9:00pm when emergency crews were called to Whitewater Falls after someone had fallen into the water.

Crews worked until 1:00am to locate the victim but the search was suspended due to weather and difficult terrain, according to Jackson County Emergency Management.

Crews from Jackson County Emergency Management, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office, Transylvania County Fire Department, Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad, and a swift water rescue dive team from Henderson County returned to the falls at 9:00am Tuesday to resume the search for the man.

That man has since been identified as 24-year-old Chandler Manuel from Rockwell, North Carolina.

Officials said Manuel was hiking the Foothills Trail with other hikers, including his brother, at the time he fell into the water.

Eldon Jamison (From: Jackson County Emergency Management)

A rugged remote high line operations repelling team from the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad was searching for the victim Tuesday when one of their members fell from a rope.

The victim, 71-year-old Eldon Jamison of Yellow Mountain, died from the fall.

A helicopter team from the North Carolina National Guard was able to retrieve Jamison’s body from the bottom of the falls around 4:15pm.

18 other members of the rescue squad were not hurt.

Jamison was a member of the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad for more than 40 years, according to Jackson County Emergency Management.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations is investigating the death which is standard procedure when a death occurs in the line of duty.

Emergency crews returned to the site Wednesday to continue searching for Manuel, whose body was found at the bottom of the waterfall and taken from the scene by National Guard helicopter.

Crews from Buncombe County, Swain County, Avery County, Mitchell County, the National Guard and North Carolina State Emergency Management joined the search.

Jackson County Emergency Services Director Todd Dillard and Jackson County Sheriff Chip Hall released this statement:

“We want to send a huge thank you out to all of the many emergency services agencies that responded to this search over the last three days. We couldn’t have done it without their support. Emergency service people are like family, and we lost one of ours this week. We are humbled by the response of our extended emergency services family from S.C., and all counties surrounding us here in Western N.C. Thank you.”

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