1 child dead, 2nd rescued after being swept over waterfall at High Falls State Park

A teen was rescued by helicopter Tuesday afternoon after he and his younger brother were swept over a waterfall at High Falls State Park. The younger child did not make it.  / Danielle Apolinar (WGXA)

JACKSON, Ga. (WGXA)-- One child has died and another was rescued Tuesday afternoon after getting swept over a waterfall at High Falls State Park in Monroe County.

Tuesday afternoon, Monroe County EMA Director Matthew Perry identified the deceased boy as 12-year-old Christian Burdette. His brother, 17-year-old James Burdette, was rescued via helicopter. Both boys are from Monroe County.

Perry said around 11:30 a.m., 911 received calls of two children who were swept over the lower falls. Sgt. Lawson Bittick with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said that two witnesses saw the boys walking over the rocks in a restricted area. He said they soon after heard a scream and saw the boys in the water.

The boys plummeted about 20 to 25 feet down to the rocky and deep waters, according to Perry.

Within minutes of the 911 call, a fire crew was on scene and located James Burdette. He was clinging to a rock to avoid falling. They also located the deceased body of Christian Burdette less than 100 yards from his brother.

Perry said that due to the recent rains, the water levels were high and rescue crews could not safely get to James Burdette by boat.

Officials quickly determined that they would need to rescue the teen via helicopter. A rope rescue technician from the Cobb County Fire Department arrived at around 2:40 p.m. and pulled James Burdette to safety. He was taken to a hospital by ambulance for an evaluation.

Perry said the rescue was delayed because they wanted to be sure James Burdette and the rescue crews stayed safe.

"We took the time to do this right the first time," Perry said. "There are no second chances in this."

Bittick said that several agencies were on hand, including the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Georgia State Patrol, the Monroe County Fire Department, Georgia Search and Rescue, the Macon-Bibb Fire Department and the Forsyth Fire Department.

Perry emphasized that all state parks, including High Falls Park, are beautiful and enjoyable places, but can also be dangerous if warnings and caution signs are not heeded.

A woman also died at High Falls State Park in May after she slipped off the rocks and fell.

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