He jumped in the water to save his dog. Then he was swept over an NC waterfall.

How to stay safe around waterfalls

Leigh Ann Angle, park ranger, gives tips about hiking at South Mountains State Park.
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Leigh Ann Angle, park ranger, gives tips about hiking at South Mountains State Park.

A South Carolina man was killed when he was swept over a waterfall in North Carolina on Saturday, officials said.

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John Shaffer, 42, of Charleston, jumped in the waters above Rainbow Falls in Pisgah National Forest outside Gorges State Park in western North Carolina. He was swept away by the current and over the waterfall, according to multiple reports.

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Lake Toxaway Fire and Rescue Chief Carmon West said that Shaffer jumped into the water to try to rescue his dog, WLOS reported.

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Rainbow Falls is a 125 foot waterfall located near Sapphire on the Horsepasture River in Pisgah National Forest land just outside Gorges State Park. Travis Long The News & Observer

Shaffer was visiting the state park with his wife. His dog had not yet been found as of Saturday, according to WSOC.

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Crews recovered Shaffer's body pinned against a rock downriver, after a five-hour search, according to multiple reports.

"The water falls is beautiful. But not they're not beautiful when we have to come rescue you," West told WLOS. "And most of the time when we have to come rescue somebody from falling over water falls, the end result is not what people want. And it's not what we want."

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The U.S. Forest Service and rescue crews warned people to avoid climbing on or around waterfalls and to never enter water above a waterfall, since rocks and other areas can be slippery. It's easy to lose your balance in these spots, especially with bare feet.

At least 40 people have died at waterfalls in the national forests of Western North Carolina since 1993, according to the forest service.

Earlier this month, a 63-year-old Florida woman survived a 40-foot fall at Laurel Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

In May, a 26-year-old Ohio man slipped and drowned at Elk River Falls in the North Carolina mountains. His body was not recovered for 11 days.

In April, a man survived a 70-foot fall from a waterfall near Twin Bridges south of Saluda.

In February, a Georgia man visiting North Carolina for a bachelor party died after falling off Upper Catawba Falls near Old Fort.

In 2017, a 24-year-old Vietnamese man was swept over the falls and died while trying to walk across Moore Cove Falls in Pisgah National Forest.

In 2016, a 24-year-old Georgia news anchor died after being swept over Rainbow Falls, WLOS reported.

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