UPDATE: The victim has been identified as 21-year-old Elias Lehman from Dayton located southwest of Harrisonburg. He was accompanied by four companions and reportedly went beyond the barrier to take photos when he fell about 300 feet. When rescuers reached him, he was still alive but suffered head trauma and a broken leg. He died during the 3 1/2 hours it took to carry him out.
Elias was a senior honors student majoring in industrial design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Visitation will be held on Saturday, November 27, from 6-9 pm at Grace Covenant Church in Harrisonburg with funeral services to be held on Sunday, November 28, at 5:00 pm at the church. Our prayers to his family.
This is tragic especially three days before Thanksgiving. A 21-year-old male's body has been recovered from Crabtree Falls located near the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia. He is victim #27.
According to Nelson County Sheriff David Brooks, the victim appears to have climbed over a safety barrier and slipped on the rocks that are deceptively slippery due to spray from the falls and moss. The accident occurred Monday, the second in six months.
Tragedy at the waterfall has become an all-too familiar scene over the years, prompting the park service to post prominent warning signs along the trail for hikers:
DANGER. THE ROCKS ARE COVERED WITH A PLANT GROWTH THAT MAKES THEM EXTREMELY SLIPPERY. TWENTY-FIVE PEOPLE HAVE DIED WHILE CLIMBING ON THESE ROCKS. VIEW THE FALLS FROM DESIGNATED AREAS ONLY.
Fences act as barriers between the trail and the falls. Warnings are posted that hikers between 18 and 25 years old are most likely to fit the profile of those who have plunged to their deaths in the past.
And, yet, the lure of the falls entices many to climb over the fences and venture onto the rocks. Most return safely ... some do not.