The 28-year-old, who has been identified as Aaron Post of South Carolina, slipped on the rock face around 10:40 a.m. on Saturday and fell over the waterfall as other hikers looked on helplessly, his friend George Huff told WLOS-TV.
“I turned around and I just watched him slide down the waterfall,” Huff said.
Rescuers from the Henderson County Rescue Squad and multiple fire departments raced to extract Post from the rugged terrain. The crew posted photos of the rescue, which showed a helicopter hovering over the falls and rescuers preparing to rappel down the steep cliffs.
The team was eventually able to secure Post in a basket dropped by the helicopter and lifted him out from the woods, County Fire Marshal Bobby Arledge told WLOS.
He was rushed to a hospital in critical condition, the station reported, but died from his injuries on Sunday.
“Although the outcome is not what anyone wants; everyone worked together as a team to make sure this patient had the best care and extraction they could,” the Henderson County Rescue Squad wrote on Facebook. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends during this difficult time.”
Big Bradley Falls in Saluda rises at least 75 feet above a small gorge in Cove Creek, according to NCWaterfalls.com. The site calls it “a dangerous area” where several hikers have died in recent years.
In 2017, a 47-year-old Charlotte man was hiking with his two daughters when he tripped on a root and fell nearly 100 feet off the waterfall to his death, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported at the time.