JACKSON COUNTY, NC (FOX Carolina) – Rescue officials say a rescue squad member died Tuesday after falling from a rope while searching for a missing hiker, and they say the hiker was found dead Wednesday as well.
Officials first released the name of the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad member who died, and then identified the hiker who fell from Whitewater Falls on Monday.
Jackson County Sheriff Hall says the call came in around 9:30 p.m. on May 4 in reference to a person who had possibly fallen from the falls. Crews searched until about 1:30 a.m., but had to suspend the search due to inclement weather.
The search resumed Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. Sheriff Hall says details surrounding the incident are limited, but he said the individual was not at the falls alone.
Crews from Oconee County, Jackson County, Transylvania County and Henderson County have assisted in the search.
Unfortunately, while assisting with the search, officials with Jackson County said a member the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad (GCRS), later identified as Eldon Jamison, fell from a rope during search operations. Jamison did not survive his fall.
The Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad mourned Jamison’s death on Facebook, calling him a friend to all and one of a kind.
“He was a long time rescue squad member and worked as a paramedic for years. He served in many positions on the Squad over the years from Chief to serving on the Board. He was currently serving as a Lieutenant. There has never been a more caring and compassionate person,” the post read in part.
A National Guard NC Heart helicopter team retrieved Jamison’s body around 4:15 p.m. The NC State Bureau of Investigations is investigating the incident, as is protocol when a death occurs in the line of duty.
Jamison was 71. He had been a member of the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad for more than 40 years.
Tuesday’s search was called off around 5:45 p.m. and resumed again Wednesday morning.
Just before 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jackson County EMS announced they recovered the body of 24-year-old Chandler Manuel of Rockwell, N.C. He was found at the bottom of the falls and extracted by a National Guard N.C. Heart helicopter at 3:45 p.m.
We later received photos of Chandler from his brother, Cymon Manuel. Cymon tells FOX Carolina he was with Chandler, and was the last person with him who saw Chandler’s final moments. Cymon says he dived into the water three times to find Chandler, but was unable to.
“I just want him to be remembered so everyone can see what an amazing role model he was to me. I looked up to him ever since I could remember,” Cymon told us.
Sheriff Hall expressed how important it is to be cautious when hiking around the falls – especially now that more people will be outside as the country slowly reopens. He said to listen to the signs and other warnings posted around the area.
Jackson County Emergency Services Director Todd Dillard and Hall said in a joint 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.”
Stay with FOX Carolina as we get updates.
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