Man dies, rescue diver hospitalized after drowning at Avery County waterfall, officials say

AVERY COUNTY, N.C. — A man is dead and a rescue diver was hospitalized after a drowning at a popular swimming hole in Avery County, officials say.

Our affiliate station WJHL reported that several agencies responded to a missing swimmer at Elk River Falls on Friday morning.

The rescue mission became a recovery mission and the body of 53-year-old Philip D. Williams was found nearby, according to the Avery County Sheriff’s Office.

During the rescue, a diver assisting with the mission from the Linville Volunteer Fire Department began suffering a serious medical issue, the department said.

He was airlifted to a nearby hospital and the department said he would make a full recovery.

“Our diver is doing great and should be back at it after some rest and healing. This was not a dive related injury. Thank you for the thoughts and prayers,” Linville Volunteer Fire Department said in a Facebook post.

Avery County Sheriff Danny Phillips told WJHL no foul play was expected in the incident, and that it appears that Williams was swimming in the falls before his death.

In 2019, Channel 9′s Dave Faherty reported on efforts by local officials to warn of the dangers at the falls. Signs nearby note “Danger: These falls have claimed over a dozen lives.”

(WATCH BELOW: Crews continue search for man who drowned at Elk River Falls)