Authorities on Wednesday found a body matching that of a 26-year-old Ohio man who slipped and drowned at Elk River Falls in the North Carolina mountains 11 days ago.
Torrential rains Tuesday night might have contributed to Thomas McCardle Jr.'s body "finally surfacing today," the Avery County Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook.
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The rains likely created a current strong enough to free McCardle's body from where it was trapped, Sheriff Kevin Frye told the Avery Journal-Times. Elk River Falls is in Pisgah National Forest.
Just before noon Wednesday, firefighters and other rescue workers were notified by Avery County 911 dispatch that a body had surfaced at the falls, according to the sheriff's Facebook post. The body was taken to the medical examiner's office for "positive confirmation of identification," according to the post.
"Our prayers go out to this young man's family and friends," the sheriff's office said in its post. "However, even during this terribly sad time, we all have got to know about the life story of a tremendous young man, his victory to walk after an accident which doctors said would never happen, his tremendous faith in God and his wonderful father and mother and for that, we have all been greatly blessed."
Several Appalachian State students and others "risked their lives" trying to save McCardle, his parents said in a news release issued by the sheriff's office Friday.
McCardle had been in the area for a wedding when he went to Elk River Falls, which he'd previously visited, the sheriff's office said.
McCardle is believed to have accidentally slid off a rock into the water at the bottom of the falls, sheriff's investigators said. He apparently "got caught in and drug under by very strong currents due to the previous very heavy rain," according to the sheriff's news release.