12-year-old dies after being swept away in waterfall at state park

A 12-year-old boy was killed and his 17-year-old brother had to be rescued after an accident at High Falls State Park on Tuesday.

Monroe County Emergency Management Director Matthew Perry said that 911 came in around 11:30 a.m. that the two boys had been swept over the falls and plummeted about 20 feet. A witness heard a scream and placed the emergency call.

Responding crews arrived and saw one of the boys alert in a shallow area on a rock. His brother, identified as 12-year-old Christian Burdette, had passed away, Perry said.

With recent rain, water levels were up in the area, making the area the surviving brother, James Burdette, was in was inaccessible by boat and "nearly inaccessible" by the shore. It became clear that the rescue would have to come by air, Perry said.

 

A crew from Kennesaw, Ga. came from the air and were able to rescue the 17-year-old. He was transported to a local hospital for evaluation. He'll be turned over his family.

Perry said that it appeared that the boys had strayed from the hiking trails before their fall.

The parents were "devastated," Perry said.

The same afternoon, a friend of the two went to the scene to pay his respects. He told 11Alive's Ron Jones that it was tough to comprehend.

"I was just hanging out with them 48 hours ago, playing basketball, having the time of our life on fall break," said Austin Steward, a friend of the two.  "To hear this on the news, and he's dead, it's horrific how life can suddenly be taken from you."

The 1,050-acre park is located northwest of Macon, Ga. It's said to be a popular camping destination and side trip for travelers on I-75. Boat rental, ramps and fishing docks provide access to the park’s lake, which is known as one of Georgia’s top fishing spots for hybrid and white bass, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Perry reminded those visiting the parks to respect the rules of the park so as not to endanger their own lives.

Back in May, a 37-year-old woman died after falling at the park. In that incident, Danielle Flanagan was with her husband and child when she fell. She was taken to Monroe County Hospital, where she later died.

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© 2017 WXIA-TV


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