Man falls to death while rock climbing in North Carolina

MORGANTON, N.C. -- A 31-year-old man died while rock climbing in North Carolina, according to local authorities.

Austin Howell was reportedly free climbing in a difficult portion of the Linville Gorge on Shortoff Mountain in Morganton on Sunday when he apparently fell about 80 feet, officials said. Emergency crews were first contacted at about 11:45 a.m. and reached Howell using rappelling equipment at about 1:15 p.m.

Other climbers performed CPR until emergency responders were able to reach Howell, but he died at 1:30 p.m.

Specific details of the accident are unknown at this time, authorities said. The U.S. Forest Service is investigating.
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