Rescuers work overnight to save man at waterfall

Dozens of rescuers worked all night Saturday until after dawn Sunday to rescue a Concord man after he and his girlfriend fell at treacherous Linville Falls.

Lauren Patchett, 18, of Kannapolis, and her boyfriend, Jacob Harkey, 19, of Concord, fell while hiking around the falls off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Burke County authorities said.

More than 60 rescue workers from 10 different agencies had to overcome darkness and steep terrain to rescue them in northern Burke County.

Patchett, a 2007 graduate of Northwest Cabarrus High School, was in good condition Monday at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and Harkey was in fair condition.

While hiking about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Patchett slipped at the falls and fell about 20 feet. Then Harkey tumbled 70 feet from the top of the falls and landed on a ledge about 50 feet above the Linville River, said Maj. Ken Anthony of Burke County Emergency Services.

Despite suffering a possible spinal injury, Patchett climbed out of the wilderness area to get help for Harkey, who suffered more serious injuries. It took her several hours to get to a trail and walk to a house on N.C. 183 to get help.

Once rescuers got the call, it took another two hours to find Harkey.

Because of his location, it took nearly eight hours to bring him up to the Linville Falls Visitors Center parking lot. Rescueers had to negotiate what Anthony called “unforgiving terrain” through the night and into the dawn.

At Linville, paramedics treated Harkey for hypothermia, a broken pelvis, a head injury and other fractures, Anthony said.

He was taken by helicopter to CMC's Trauma Center. Patchett was taken to a Linville hospital and then transferred to CMC.

Assisting the Burke County Emergency Services' Special Operations Team were nine other agencies, including the Jonas Ridge Fire Department and First Responders, Burke County Rescue Squad, Oak Hill Fire and Rescue, Drexel Fire Department Search and Rescue, Lake James Fire Department, Linville Central Rescue, McDowell County Rescue Squad, the U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Division and Burke County REACT.