State News

Illinois man drowns in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted September 16, 2020 1:09 p.m. EDT

— The National Park Service says 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."

The park service identified the man as Yogesh Patel, 25, of Oak Forest, Illinois.

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. News outlets reported that his body was recovered by rescue divers Tuesday.

An official cause of death has not been released.

“Bystanders attempted to pull Patel from the water, but were not successful,” the park service said in a news release.

Park spokeswoman Jamie Sanders told The Asheville Citizen-Times that Midnight Hole is actually a small waterfall and local swimming area.

“Mr. Patel was walking along a log that extended into the swimming hole when he slipped off the log and into the water. The log was located at the edge of the shore below the waterfalls,” Sanders said. “His family was with him at the time.”

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