Hiker dies after accident at Melrose Falls

Published 3:48 pm Monday, January 15, 2024

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Andrew Lee, 29, fell 50 to 60 feet Wednesday night, officials say


SALUDA—A hiker fell over 50 feet near a Polk County waterfall, later dying due to his injuries, in a tragic accident that occurred on the night of Wednesday, January 10.

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Officials say that Andrew Lee, 29, and an unidentified woman were hiking at Melrose Falls, near the Twin Bridges area on Hwy. 176 between Saluda and Tryon, when Lee slipped and fell from a rock overlook off the main trail and suffered multiple injuries. The female, who was able to call 911 despite the remote location, was uninjured. 

Lee later died at Spartanburg Regional Hospital.

Officials say Lee grew up in Polk County but did not live in the area. He was a 2013 graduate of Polk County High School.

According to Chief Josh Walton of the Tryon Fire Department, the commanding officer on the scene, the original call came in at 10:10 p.m. and emergency crews were able to locate Lee at approximately 10:30 p.m. Emergency personnel and Lee, who was semi-conscious and semi-responsive during the extrication process, were able to reach the ambulance at approximately 2:45 a.m.

Walton said extricating Lee from the location where he fell presented unique challenges.

“He fell from near the top of the falls, and ended up about 10 feet from the very bottom,” Walton said Monday. “Being nighttime, and with the rain, it was definitely challenging. We requested Henderson Rescue Squad to assist. After locating him, first we had to get him out of the water, then evaluate him and package him. A basket-haul system was rigged to get him out.”

Polk County Emergency Management was also on scene.

“We estimate that he fell between 50 and 60 feet,” said Polk County Emergency Director Bobby Arledge. “A basket-haul system was used to get him out, and there was rappelling involved.”

The land where the incident took place is managed by Conserving Carolina. The Saluda Grade Trail, a 31-mile proposed rails-to-trails project, would run right through the area where the accident occurred.

In addition to Polk County Emergency Management and Tryon Fire Department, Saluda Fire and Rescue, Columbus Fire Department, Polk County Rescue, Henderson County Rescue, Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Polk EMS were all on scene.