Authorities said an Upstate man later died after he and his 5-year-old daughter fell nearly 80 feet down a waterfall in northern Greenville County.
Emergency crews said the 44-year-old man and his daughter lost consciousness during the fall and suffered multiple injuries. It happened Sunday afternoon at Wildcat Falls.
Greenville County Deputy Coroner Kent Dill said Mark N. Jones, of Taylors, later died at the hospital. Dill said Jones fell first, between 80 and 100', and landed in the water. He said his daughter fell while climbing down to go help him, falling from a lesser height.
Moments before the fall, Dill said Jones had texted his wife to say everything was going well on the hike and his daughter was doing well. He said both Jones and his daughter hiked frequently.
It took more than an hour for crews to rescue the two victims out of the woods and get them airlifted to a hospital. The 80-foot waterfall is more than a mile off of the highway and a trek rescue crews said they make too often.
"We've had over the years, probably seven or eight fatalities from the falls here, and dozens of cases of severe injuries," said River Falls Fire Chief David Embry.
Chief Embry said often emergencies out at the falls are caused by people mesmerized by the beauty, then being careless near the dangerous drop.
"People come out here and walk in the middle of the falls and want somebody to take their picture. It's very slick, and they fall," said Embry.
Other hikers today told FOX Carolina that knowing people were hurt on their same trail Sunday was a wake-up call.
"It's devastating, every day someone is getting hurt and you wonder when it might happen to you," said hiker Daniel Davidson.
"I'm a mother and this place is beautiful but it's dangerous and you have to be careful with your kids, keep an eye on them, you don't want stuff like that to happen," said Natalie Carothers.
Both of the victims were taken to Greenville Memorial Hospital where Jones died from multiple blunt force trauma just after 7:30 p.m. while in surgery, Dill said. The girl was listed in good condition.
"We are grateful for the outpouring of prayers and support," hospital officials said in a statement released by the hospital on behalf of the Jones family. "This is an extraordinarily difficult time for us. We ask that everyone respect the family's privacy and also ask that people please continue to keep us in their hearts and prayers."
Jones' mother spoke with FOX Carolina on Monday. She said he was an experienced hiker and outdoorsman, his death and granddaughter's injury have left it hard for her to imagine what happened.
Copyright 2013 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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