Editor’s Note: The latest death at Elk River Falls occurred in July 2016. See article here.
By Jesse Wood
Elk River Falls claimed another life on Sunday afternoon.
A 26-year-old female, Sheida Hosseinzadeh, from Charlotte jumped from the falls, estimated to be 40- to 60-feet-tall, and didn’t resurface.
According to the Avery County Sheriff’s Office, emergency dispatch received a cell phone call about a possible drowning at Elk River Falls in Elk Park at 12:41 p.m. Avery County EMS arrived on the scene first.
While a recovery operation was set up immediately, the body of Hosseinzadeh, a student at UNC-Charlotte, wasn’t found until several hours later, after 5 p.m.
About 54 responders from various agencies – Avery County EMS, Linville Central Rescue Squad, the Elk Park Fire Department, Avery County Sheriff’s Office, Banner Elk Fire Department, the Carter County Dive Team, the water rescue team from Parkway Fire and Rescue, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team, the Avery County Fire Coordinator, Avery County Emergency Management Coordinator, US Forest Service and the Linville Fire Department – worked together during the recovery effort.
Avery County Sheriff’s Office were unsure whether she hit a rock under shallow water or drowned after being pulled under by the currents. Both incidents, leading to death, have occurred at the falls in the past.
On the night of the death, a person who said they witnessed the incident posted on a popular waterfalls blog devoted to this waterfall, among others:
“I was at Elk Falls yesterday. People were jumping the 40-foot-jump over the waterfall and tragically a young girl 26 years old got caught in the falls current after jumping. She came up and was pulled back down. She was there with friends and it was tragic to see.”
WSOC-TV reported that local deputies said that at least 10 people have died at the falls in the past three decades and talks of fencing off the falls have been discussed. In the past warning signs have been posted as to the dangers of the falls, but people keep taking down the signs.
More recently, a 40-year-old man drowned after diving or falling at Elk River Falls in 2010 and a 16-year-old boy from Elizabethton, Tenn., died after jumping from the top of the falls and being sucked under by the current in 2006.