Kings Mountain High School senior Patrick Mereno has been identified as the teenager who was rescued after falling 60 feet at a waterfall in Burke County on Tuesday.
After slipping and falling near High Shoals Waterfall in South Mountains State Park, Mereno was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte with serious injuries, said park superintendent Jonathan Griffith. No updates have been issued on his condition.
The accident was reported around 6 p.m. Tuesday, and rescue crews reached the 17-year-old two hours later.
Four people have died by the waterfall since 1993 – most recently in 2011, when a 17-year-old from Shelby fell to his death. In 2005, a 20-year-old Charlotte woman died in a fall near the same area. Park rangers say rocks near the water can become very slippery.
The trails along the waterfall are marked and the top of the waterfall itself is blocked off, but it is likely that Mereno left the trail and crossed over the barricades before he fell, Griffith said.
“Waterfalls come with certain inherent dangers,” Griffith said. “We’ve tried to negate the danger with the signage and the barricades on top of the waterfall.”