A Dawsonville teen died Sunday while rappelling with friends in western North Carolina.
Emergency officials said 19-year-old Greg Cooper Jr. fell about 150 feet to the base of the cliff at Cullasaja Falls in the Nantahala National Forest.
“We’re crushed and heartbroken,” said his father, Gregory Cooper. “He was such a great kid, who would always lend a hand and such a protective older brother.”
Macon County, N.C., Emergency Services Director Warren Cabe said Cooper was part of a group rappelling from an overpass above the falls.
“They had tied off to the guardrail at the top of the cliff, which is right above the falls,” Cabe said.
The elder Cooper said his son “was a thrill seeker. There’s no doubt about that.”
“He’d just got into rappelling, and he loved hunting, fishing and watersports,” he said. “He was full of life and a hard worker.”
The teen, who looked forward to a future in the military, was employed in the construction industry, his father said.
According to Cabe, Cooper was attempting a method known as Australian rappelling, which involves descending the rock cliff in a standing position while facing the ground, when the accident occurred.
Cabe said the group was familiar with the area.
“I don’t know how experienced he was, but we do know they had been here before,” he said.
The cause of the fall remains under investigation.
Another man, whose name has not been released, was also injured and treated at the scene. His injuries were not severe.
“We aren’t sure if he was hurt trying to get to his friend,” Cabe said.
In addition to his father, Greg Cooper Jr. is survived by his mother, Lisa Cooper, and sister, Linda Cooper, both of Dawsonville.
A memorial service will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 10 at St. Simons Episcopal Church in Conyers.
In lieu of flowers, the family is accepting donations to cover funeral expenses.
They can be sent to Metro Embalming and Crematory, 329 Gees Mill Business Parkway, Suite 300, Conyers, GA 30013.