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Teen who fell 150 feet at NC's Rainbow Falls is latest in series of waterfall deaths

Best Kept Secrets: Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls, in the Pisgah National Forest and accessible via Gorges State Park, is a 150-foot waterfall near Sapphire, NC. The three-mile, round-trip is moderate to strenuous – including a series of wooden steps that take visitors up the steep
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Rainbow Falls, in the Pisgah National Forest and accessible via Gorges State Park, is a 150-foot waterfall near Sapphire, NC. The three-mile, round-trip is moderate to strenuous – including a series of wooden steps that take visitors up the steep

A 16-year-old girl who fell July 4th from the top of Rainbow Falls in Transylvania County has become the latest is a series of waterfall tragedies in the region over the past six weeks.

The girl was was identified Thursday as H'Money Siu of Charlotte by Fox Carolina.

The waterfall is 150 feet high and sits on National Forestry Service land, adjacent to Gorges State Park, according to Katie Hall with North Carolina State Parks.

Divers recovered the body about four and a half hours after she vanished Wednesday. Officials told WYFF that the girl was in a pool above the falls when she was swept over the edge. She was attempting to help an 11-year-old girl who was struggling in the water at the time, according to the Associated Press.

It is the fifth time that someone has died this summer by jumping or falling into one of the region's waterfalls. A sixth death occurred over the winter, when a 37-year-old Georgia man fell to his death at Catawba Falls in McDowell County in February.

Among the five deaths this summer is one that occurred Monday afternoon, just across the N.C. state line in Tennessee, according to TV station WJHL.

It happened at Twisting Falls in Carter County and involved a 25-year-old tourist who jumped into the pool of water at the bottom falls around 2:40 p.m., the station reported.

The Carter County Rescue Squad searched eight hours before recovering the body of Keith Massey of St. Louis, Missouri, reported TV station WCYB.

Twisting Falls is one of hundreds of waterfalls that straddle the NC-Tennessee state line, many of which are popular parts of the state and national parks system.

Two of the five deaths this year occurred at Rainbow Falls and two others were at N.C.'s Elk River Falls in Avery County, including one July 1 involving 32-year-old Gogineni Nagarjuna of Charlotte.

On June 23, a 42-year-old South Carolina man named John Shaffer went over Rainbow Falls in the Pisgah National Forest while trying to save his dog.

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Massey's Facebook page says he was married last October to Mayra Massey and worked as a musical director at FaithChurch in St. Louis, where he was part of the church band during services. It had not been announced yet when his funeral was to be held.

Pastor David Crank of FaithChurch posted on Facebook that Keith Massey was on vacation with his wife and friends in North Carolina when the accident happened.

"It breaks my heart to learn of the passing of FaithChurch’s very own musical genius and MD, Keith Massey," Crank said in his post.

"He jumped off a waterfall and did not resurface for hours...I've known Keith since the day he was born. I remember holding him as a baby, seeing him begin to walk."

A record cold snap in North Carolina turns two Burke County waterways into majestic ice sculptures which are worth the hike to see.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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