NC rescue squad member dies in fall during waterfall search
Eldon Jamison, 71, of Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad, died Tuesday while searching for a hiker who had fallen into the water near Whitewater Falls
By Laura French
JACKSON COUNTY, N.C. — A longtime member of a North Carolina rescue squad died Tuesday during a search effort at a waterfall.
Eldon Jamison, 71, of Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad, fell from a rope while the squad's rugged remote high line operations repelling team was searching for a hiker who reportedly fell into the water at the base of Whitewater Falls near Cashiers, according to Jackson County Emergency Management.
Jamison's body was recovered at the bottom of the waterfall late Tuesday afternoon by a National Guard North Carolina Heart helicopter team. The eight other Glennville-Cashiers Rescue Squad members who were on their way down to the falls and 10 members who were below the falls at the time of the incident were unharmed.
Jamison was a member of the rescue squad for more than 40 years and had held the offices of captain and assistant captain. He also previously worked with Glenville-Cashiers EMS as one of its first six employees in 1984. He was a widower and is survived by three children.
Following Jamison's death, search operations were suspended for the night and scheduled to resume first thing on Wednesday morning. The search for the hiker who reportedly fell into the water, 24-year-old Chandler Manuel, first began late Monday night. Search efforts had previously been suspended in the early morning hours on Tuesday due to safety concerns stemming from incoming storms and difficult terrain.
Officials say while the Whitewater Falls area has been closed to the public, the hiking trail below the falls was open on Monday.
Jackson County Emergency Management, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, the Transylvania County Sheriff's Office, the Transylvania County Fire Department and a swift water rescue dive team from Henderson County also assisted in the search.