Second drowning in 6 weeks reported at Elk River Falls

Second drowning in 6 weeks reported at Elk River Falls

ELK PARK, N.C. — Officials said a man drowned Sunday night while swimming at the Elk River Falls.

We first updated WSOCTV news app users with a notification just after 9 a.m. Monday that the second drowning in six weeks occurred at Elk River Falls.

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This is the second drowning at Elk River Falls in six weeks.

Investigators said 32-year-old Nagarjuna Gogineni was swimming with friends at the base of the falls around 5 p.m.

They said he jumped into the water from the side, went under and never resurfaced.

Officials said divers recovered his body around 7 p.m.

Another drowning was reported at the falls six weeks earlier. In that case, rescue teams were unable to recover the victim due to heavy rainfall in the area, making the waters too dangerous for rescue teams.

The victim's body eventually rose to the surface 10 days after the initial incident.

Officials said deadly incidents at the falls have typically resulted from jumping from the rocks above into the water, but the two most recent drownings happened while the victims were just swimming.

Firefighters said they’ve responded to 20 deaths at the falls over the last two decades.

"Just that really dangerous undertow that's created the turbines by the falls themselves. That just drag people under when they're swimming when they get close, even good swimmers," Avery County Sheriff Kevin Frye said.

Frye along with other emergency personnel and the U.S. Forest service recently made a video about the hidden dangers of the falls.

Channel 9's Dave Faherty spoke with visitors Monday who said they’ve heard about the dangers.

“Very, very careful, because this is a dangerous situation,” visitor Aaron Honeycutt said. “We never get close to the top, and I don't get close to the edge because it is very, very dangerous."

Another visitor Gene Greene said he and his grandson love to hike there, but do not take any chances near the slick rocks.

"If I ever fall off, you know somebody has pushed me because I'm not getting close or nothing to fall off because I'm scared of heights," Greene said.

The big concern for authorities is the Fourth of July week with many people coming to the falls. Authorities are encouraging visitors to come look at the falls, but to not jump in the water.

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