Search teams continue to look for drowning victim at Elk River Falls

Memorial Day weekend water safety

AVERY COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Rescue teams continue searching the rough waters below the Elk River Falls in Avery County for a man who slipped off a rock Sunday.

The victim is from Ohio, said authorities, and had stopped by to see the falls after attending a wedding in Asheville. He has not been identified yet.

Witnesses said he was sitting on a ledge that leaned into the water below the falls and slipped into the water. Due to recent rainfall, the current below the surface is very strong, said Linville Rescue Member Larry Cutherbertson.

"It is super super dangerous here," he said.

When the man slipped in, several people tried to grab him. Four joined hands to form a human chain. They were able to grab the victim briefly, said Sheriff's Deputy Lt. William Buchanan, "But the current ripped him away."

The man surfaced one more time in the middle of the basin below the falls and then was pulled under.

Officials said the man was not wearing a life vest. With recent rainfall swelling all creeks and streams across the mountains and foothills, authorities are urging people to use extreme caution near waterways.

"Wear a vest and don't swim alone," said Buchanan.

Better yet, don't go into the water at all, he said. As for the search for the Ohio man, crews will stay on the scene working until they find him, he said.

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