Drownings on the Appalachian Trail

A Louisiana man and his teenage son - 42-year-old Dwight F. Cope and Dagan Cope, 15, both of Breaux Bridge - perished at Laurel Fork Falls, while hiking the Appalachian Trail in Carter County, Tennessee's Pond Mountain Wilderness Area.

The Copes, according to their hiking log, had been on the trail for 13 days.

Their bodies were discovered on Wednesday, July 4, 2012, after a passerby saw the body of the father floating in the water below the falls.

The young boy's body was discovered after a helicopter search of the area was conducted Thursday morning.

Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes said it appears they both drowned, but the deaths are being treated as homicides, pending autopsy results.

Authorities said the pool beneath the waterfalls is deep and that there is a rock shelf under the falls. Strong currents can pull swimmers under the shelf and pin them there for hours.

Our thanks go out to the Carter County Sheriff's office, Cherokee National Forest personnel, the Technical Rescue Team, Wings Air Rescue, and all those involved in this difficult rescue mission.

We also extend our condolences to the family of the Copes.

Tags: Tourism, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, and Right to Hike

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.