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DROWNING — Midnight Hole in the Big Creek area of the Smokies is a popular swimming hole, but its waters are deep, cold and turbulent from the falls above.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials and multiple assisting emergency response agencies located 25-year-old male, Yogesh Patel, of Oak Forest, Illinois, at 12:09 p.m. on Sept. 15.

Patel, who was discovered in 18 feet of water in Midnight Hole by rescue divers, was removed by emergency response personnel shortly before 1 p.m.

Patel was reported missing at 7:36 p.m. on Sept. 14 after he reportedly fell into the water at Midnight Hole and was observed struggling. Bystanders attempted to pull Patel from the water but were not successful.

Agencies assisting in the recovery operation and investigation included Haywood Country Emergency Management Agency, Haywood County Rescue Squad, Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, Haywood County Emergency Medical Services, Fines Creek Fire Department, Jonathan Creek Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, Clyde Fire Department, Newport Rescue Squad, Center Pigeon Fire and Rescue, Henderson County Rescue Squad and Dive Team, Asheville Rescue Squad and Dive Team and Cherokee Tribal Medical Examiner’s Office.

Original story starts here.

A 25-year-old man visiting from Illinois is believed to have drowned Monday at Midnight Hole in the Big Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park located in the Haywood County section of the park near the Tennessee state line.

The incident hasn’t officially been ruled a drowning as the man’s body has not been recovered.

Bystanders saw the man fall into Midnight Hole, a deep swimming hole below a waterfall, and attempted to pull him from the water. All efforts were unsuccessful.

Park rangers, joined by emergency response teams from Haywood County, mounted a search Monday evening. The search was called due to darkness and resumed the following morning.

On Sept. 15, a park news release stated multiple emergency response agencies from Haywood were searching for 25-year-old Yogesh Patel of Oak Forest, Ill. He was reported missing at 7:36 p.m., Sept. 14, after he reportedly fell into the water at Midnight Hole and bystanders were unsuccessful in pulling him out.

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