Member of NC rescue squad dies while searching for hiker who fell from Whitewater Falls

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Photo of Upper Whitewater Falls – Courtesy of Getty Images

Eldon Jamison, 71, a 40+ year member of the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad (GCRS), died Tuesday while searching for a person who had fallen into the water at the base of Whitewater Falls. 

On Monday, May 4, Jackson County Emergency Management received a call about a person who had fallen into the water at the base of the waterfall. The victim, 24-year-old Chandler Manuel from Rockwell, N.C., had been hiking with a group of people, including his brother, on the Foothills Trail. At the time of the incident, the Whitewater Falls area was closed to the public, though the trail leading to the area below the falls was open.

Members of the GCRS responded to the emergency, including a rugged remote high line operations repelling team from GCRS. Jamison, a longtime member of squad, fell from a rope as he searched for Manuel. His body was retrieved from the bottom of the falls by the National Guard N.C. Heart helicopter team, Jackson County Emergency Management said in a press release. 

Before his death, Jamison held many offices within the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad, including Captain and Assistant Captain, and he was one of the original employees of the Glenville-Cashiers EMS, joining the force in 1984. He was widowed and leaves behind three children.

Eldon Jamison was a “Great man,” one commenter said on the Jackson County Emergency Management Facebook page. “[I] worked with him for 35 years. Friendly, caring and so dedicated in helping others! He will be missed greatly!”

The search for Manuel continued on Wednesday. His body was located at 3:45 at the bottom of Whitewater Falls, where he was last seen. 

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