Despite safety improvements, another death at Kaaterskill Falls

Above: Kaaterskill Falls. Photo by Andy Arthur via Flickr. 

Despite extensive safety improvements at Kaaterskill Falls, another person has died after falling off the famous waterfall while hiking.

A 17-year-old New Jersey man died on Wednesday morning, July 27, after he fell from the waterfall while hiking, according to a press release from the New York State Police.

A 911 call was made from a group of the man’s companions around 8:55 a.m., according to the Daily Mail. 

Ezra Kennedy of Westfield, New Jersey was found at the base of a 50-foot drop near the bottom of the waterfall, police say.

The New York State Police, the town of Hunter Police, New York State Forest Rangers, the Tannersville Fire Department and Greene County Paramedics all responded to the scene, according to the press release.

First responders tried to revive Kennedy, but were unable to do so, according to the Daily Mail. He was pronounced dead at the scene, police say.

Members of the Twin Clove Rope Rescue Team, a new multi-department elite rope rescue squad that was formed specifically to perform rope rescues in difficult locations like Kaaterskill Falls, recovered Kennedy’s body from the bottom of the waterfall, according to the press release. 

Kaaterskill Falls, a two-tier, 260-foot-tall waterfall in the Greene County town of Hunter, is New York State’s tallest waterfall and is one of most popular tourist attractions in the Catskills. It has been the scene of multiple deaths, including two fatalities within weeks of each other in 2014. 

The 2014 deaths prompted outcry and a new $450,000 safety plan for the waterfall that included building new fencing, a long stone staircase and a new trail up the waterfall.

Access to Kaaterskill Falls was restricted last year during construction of the new trails.

Currently it is unclear if Kennedy died while hiking on the new trails at the falls. According to the press release from the New York State Police, he “made his way to the top of the lower falls” during his hike with friends, and then slipped on wet rocks and fell over the edge of the lower falls off a 50-foot cliff.

A spokesman for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation told the Daily Mail that Kennedy “had climbed up a staircase to the edge of the Middle Pool area of the falls so his hiking companions could take a picture from below.” 

A call to the DEC was not immediately returned.