Hiker Dies in Plunge From Waterfall

May 4, 2011
Outside Magazine

Waterfall warning sign

A South Carolina man died on Saturday after falling off a 125-foot waterfall while trying to rescue his dog.

David Allan Lewis, 29, was hiking with his girlfriend and dog near Heritage Falls in Greenville County when the accident occurred. Deputy Coroner Kent Dill said Lewis was trying to grab his pet, which had gotten away from him, when they both began to slide over the edge. The canine regained his footing, but Lewis plunged to the bottom, suffering severe trauma.

Lewis' girlfriend scrambled to the bottom of the falls to call 911, but was unable to give authorities their precise location. Deputies from Greenville and nearby Pickens Counties had to search several trails before they found the hikers.

Accidents are a regular occurrence at South Carolina's numerous waterfalls; hikers who don't heed warning signs often lose their footing on slippery rock, with many injuries occurring on less-than-vertical terrain. Dill told NBC affiliate WYFF that several people die each year from waterfall-related mishaps in Greenville County alone.

"These things are majestic, but they're dangerous as well," he said.

Other parts of South Carolina see incidents as well: in 2009, a hiker fell nearly 100 feet to his death while attempting to cross Hidden Falls in the northwest of the state.

--Adam Roy

Photo credit: Norwegian waterfall warning sign--Anders Sandberg

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