Attention needed at Bradley Falls

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, February 16, 2017

My daughter and I have a thing we do every weekend, mainly in the summer months, but also in the fall, as well. We have a checklist of trails leading to waterfalls and swimming holes in the western part of the state that we explore and photograph.

We swim in unbelievably cool, dark mountain pools, listen to the tumbling of waters that have pushed their way through the forests for eons, picnic at places where Indians probably camped, and stare in wonder at the incredible white veils of mist and vapor rising from some amazing waterfalls.

You name a waterfall, chances are we’ve been there. Except for Big Bradley. We have not been there, nor do I have plans to go there.

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Through the years, the pages of this paper and others have sadly reported the deaths of seven people, just in the past 16 years or so, and other injuries as well. This past Sunday, a Charlotte man, out hiking with his daughters, fell 100 feet to his death. I can’t even begin to imagine what his children had to endure in those agonizing hours while rescuers from multiple agencies including Saluda Fire and Rescue worked to bring his body home.

As soon as I heard the story break, I said to myself, “How many more times will we report a death from Bradley Falls? When will they put up some kind of barrier?”

I didn’t know who the “they” would be, but Saluda’s Deputy Fire Chief Zach Pace did. He sent an email to the state wildlife resources commission asking them for help. At the Bulletin, we wholeheartedly agree that it’s high time that protective barriers are   installed, and we encourage the commission to do everything in its power to install them soon. And not just for the protection of area hikers, but for the safety of local rescue crews. They, too, risk getting hurt or worse in these rescues and extractions.

Spring is right around the corner, and the hikers will be out in numbers. While the locals have the benefit of anecdotal knowledge of the falls’ danger, tourists often do not.

The waterfalls in this area are an absolute treasure, but so are the families who trek to see them. Let’s make Big Bradley safe. I hope Lance Healy’s death last Sunday is the last fall death we publish in the Bulletin. We look forward to the wildlife resource commission’s visit on Monday to get the process started, and thank Deputy Chief Pace for reaching out to them for help.

Claire Sachse, Managing Editor