Forest Service Confirms Two Deaths on The Same Day at North Carolina National Forest

by Amy Myers

In separate incidents, two visitors in North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest died while exploring the area on the same day.

On July 23, emergency crews responded to distress calls regarding two men in trouble. The first was an unnamed man that was swimming at Secret Falls in Macon County in the North Carolina national forest.

U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Cathy Dowd and Transylvania County Rescue Squad Chief Dale Whitlock confirmed the man’s death following the incident.

“A man died while swimming at Secret Falls on the Nantahala Ranger District, south of Highlands. He drowned swimming in the pool beneath the falls,” Dowd said, according to Citizen Times.

The Macon County Sheriff’s Office and coroner’s office are the lead investigating agencies on the case. They have yet to release any additional information on the man’s identity or other circumstances of his death.

Second Victim in North Carolina National Forest Was a Local Firefighter

At some point on the same day, the Macon County-based Clarks-Chapel Fire and Rescue Department suffered a loss of their own. On Facebook, the department announced that one of the firefighters died in a “tragic accident” in the North Carolina National Forest.

“It is with great sadness that we report the passing of one of our members. Firefighter Joseph Orr lost his life in a tragic accident yesterday while enjoying the great outdoors that he loved,” the department stated. “Joseph was relatively new to the fire service but the dedication and passion he showed to community service far surpassed his time in the service. Joseph was eager to learn, and always there to help with any and all challenges.”

The department continued, “Joseph was a good friend and brother to all of us. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We ask that you keep Joseph’s family in your prayers through this difficult time. We will post updates as they become available.”

Yet Another Firefighter Dies in Nantahala National Forest

Unfortunately, the North Carolina national forest saw yet another death last month on June 25. Like Orr, this victim was a firefighter. Alicia Monahan, 41, was in Nantahala National Forest teaching a swift water rescue course when she, herself, drowned. Monahan worked at the Chesterfield County Fire and EMS in Virginia.

“Alicia’s untimely passing weighs heavy on our hearts,” Loy Senter, chief of Chesterfield County Fire and EMS, shared on the department’s social media.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to her fiancé, her two sons, extended family, and many friends,” the post continued. “Her coworkers continue to support the needs of the family while at the same time providing uninterrupted emergency services to the community Alicia loved and where she grew up and lived.”