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Hiker, 28, Dies After Falling from North Carolina Waterfall as Friend Helplessly Watches Descent

Rachel DeSantis
Hiker, 28, Dies After Falling from North Carolina Waterfall as Friend Helplessly Watches Descent

A 28-year-old hiker fell from a North Carolina waterfall on Saturday as his friend helplessly watched the tragedy unfold.

Aaron Post, of Charleston, South Carolina, died of his injuries after he slipped and fell while hiking Big Bradley Falls in Saluda, North Carolina, a spokeswoman for the Henderson County Rescue Squad confirms to PEOPLE.

More than 50 rescuers were called to the scene after Post fell around 10:40 a.m., with some having to rappel down the falls in order to help, Polk County Fire Marshal Bobby Arledge tells PEOPLE.

He was airlifted out of the woods and taken by ambulance to St. Luke’s Hospital in critical condition, where he died about an hour after his arrival, Alredge says.

Friend George Hugg, who was hiking with Post, told ABC affiliate WLOS that the fatal slip happened in the blink of an eye.

“I turned around and I just watched him slide down the waterfall,” Hugg said.

Arledge says that Bradley has “always been a real challenging place” to work in, and that mudslides last year washed away walking trails, meaning first responders had to walk in instead of taking ATVs like they typically would.

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“It’s pretty dangerous in there if you get off the trails and get close to the edge and take pictures like a lot of people do,” he says. “We’re in Bradley at least once a year for some type of incident.”

Henderson County Rescue Squad was one of the many agencies to assist, officials wrote in a Facebook post.

“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 post read. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends during this difficult time.

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The incident comes two years after a 47-year-old man hiking Big Bradley with his daughters slipped and fell about 100 feet to his death, WLOS reported.

Bradley Falls’ entry on the Visit North Carolina website warns that hikers should explore “at your own risk,” and that the trail is “especially dangerous at the top of the falls.”

Arledge tells PEOPLE that there are no barriers preventing hikers from going near the waterfall, but that there are signs warning of its dangers.

He adds that authorities have spoken with park officials about possibly putting up barriers, but that there are no plans to do so as of right now.