"We desperately tried to rescue her but the current was so strong."
A three-year-old girl has died on a family hike in North Carolina after being swept over a waterfall.
Nevaeh Jade Newswanger was playing near a river upstream of the 411ft Whitewater Falls on Sunday — when she slipped and fell in.
Her parents desperately tried to get to her in time, but the current was too strong.
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The tragic accident occurred just before 6 PM. The family — who are originally from Pennsylvania but had been residing in nearby Oconee County across the state border in South Carolina while working on a construction job — had decided to hike up the river trail above the popular scenic spot.
“Nevaeh (age 3) was playing in the sand nearby and slipped and fell in the water,” a GoFundMe explained. “We desperately tried to rescue her but the current was so strong and it swept her down the river and over the falls where the angels caught her, and she is now our precious angel, so radiant in the presence of God.”
“Her name is heaven spelled backwards. She was truly a piece of heaven to all who knew her.”
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said the child’s body was found trapped in an area of the waterfall just before dark. It took until 1AM before they were able to retrieve her remains.
They did not say how far she fell.
Jackson County Sheriff Chip Hall told People that emergency responders from five different counties were dispatched to try to locate the child.
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“First and foremost our prayers are with the Newswanger family as they grieve the loss of this precious young child,” he said.
“With the onset of spring weather we need to be reminded of the dangers associated with many scenic areas of the region such as waterfalls,” he added. “While beautiful to view from a safe distance, venturing out closer to the falls for any reason brings tremendous danger. Always remain at a distance, follow safety precautions and warnings which are in place, and view waterfalls from designated viewing areas.”
According to the USDA’s Forest Service, Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies, plunging 411ft.
“Because of the escarpment’s difficult access and rugged terrain, much of the area receives few visitors and has remained wild and undeveloped over the years,” its website claims.
“The best views of the falls are from the two overlooks. However, some people venture off the trail to try for better views. Tragically, several of these people fell to their deaths or suffered serious injuries at Whitewater Falls,” the site warns. “Please stay on the trails.”
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