Illinois man found dead at Great Smoky Mountains waterfall

Noble Horvath

UPDATE: The body of Yogesh Patel was recovered by rescue divers Tuesday afternoon in 18 feet of water at “Midnight Hole,” according to the National Park Service. A cause of death has not been released. An Illinois man is believed to have drowned in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, […]

UPDATE: The body of Yogesh Patel was recovered by rescue divers Tuesday afternoon in 18 feet of water at “Midnight Hole,” according to the National Park Service. A cause of death has not been released.

An Illinois man is believed to have drowned in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, after falling into a natural wonder known as “Midnight Hole,” according to the National Park Service.

He was identified as 25-year-old Yogesh Patel, of Oak Forest, Illinois, and he went missing late in the day on Sept. 14, the park said in a news release.

Patel fell into the water at “Midnight Hole” around 7:30 p.m. Monday “and was observed struggling,” officials said. The spot is on the North Carolina side of the national park.

“Bystanders attempted to pull Patel from the water, but were not successful,” the release said. “Rangers and rescue personnel arrived on scene at approximately 8 p.m. and began initial search operations, which were hindered by darkness.”

The search began anew on Tuesday and Patel’s body was found just after noon and recovered about 1 p.m., park officials said.

“Midnight Hole” is described by the park as “a deep, picturesque pool below a 6 (foot) falls.” The pool is part of the Big Creek Trail section of the Great Smoky Mountains, where “several people have fallen to their deaths and many others have been seriously injured,” officials say.

“Midnight Hole is probably one of the most scenic and beautiful natural swimming holes in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” Blue Ridge Mountain Life reports. “Jumping from the rocks into the pool is a very popular activity for the younger crowd.”

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.

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