Park rangers ask hikers to avoid Elk River Falls during effort to recover body

BANNER ELK, NC (WJHL/AP) - Officials with the Pisgah National Forest are asking visitors to avoid Elk River Falls as divers effort to recover the body of a man who drowned in the pool at the base of the falls. 

The popular hiking destination is just outside Carter County, TN and across the state line in Avery County, NC.    

Since Sunday, emergency teams have been working to recover the body. Earlier this week, authorities called in a special dive team to the North Carolina mountains to help search for the Ohio man. 

Park rangers said they suspended efforts, on Friday, due to dangerous conditions created by high water levels. 

Rangers say when conditions improve, search and rescue teams will resume recovery efforts. 

Avery County Sheriff Kevin Frye says divers from Charlotte are helping locate the man who disappeared Sunday at Elk River Falls in the Pisgah National Forest. Frye says the man was at the base of the 50-foot (15-meter) falls when he fell into the water and currents strengthened by excessive rains pulled him away from people trying to rescue him.

Frye told media outlets the 26-year-old man was visiting for a wedding. The sheriff didn't release his name.

Frye says the water is 70 feet (20 meters) deep and the churning river keeps pulling the body back under.

"Numerous fatalities and serious injuries occur at waterfalls each year. Waterfalls are exciting and rivers are a great place to cool off on a hot day, but both pose risks to unprepared visitors. Be aware of the hazards so you can stay safe," said the Appalachian Ranger District in a public notice. "Heed posted warning signs indicating danger and stay on established trails."


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