Boy, 12, Killed, Brother Rescued After Going Over Georgia Waterfall

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By Alex Johnson

A 12-year-old boy died Tuesday and his 17-year-old brother had to be rescued by helicopter after they were swept over a middle Georgia waterfall, authorities said.

The boys, identified as Christian Burdette, 12, and James Burdette, 17, plummeted about 20 feet over a waterfall in High Falls State Park in Jackson, in Monroe County about 35 miles northwest of Macon. The park, where the Towaliga River crashes over several waterfalls, is a popular fishing and camping location.

Christian was killed, the Monroe County Emergency Management Agency told NBC News. James was airlifted from a rock after more than two hours, Matthew Perry, the agency's director, told reporters at the scene.

"It was pretty obvious that Christian was deceased," Perry said, so rescuers focused their attentions on James.

A firefighter made his way to a spot about 50 feet from James and stayed with him the entire time while the rescue was organized, Perry said.

The rescue took so long because swift currents made it difficult to reach the boy.

"There are no second chances in this," Perry said. "This kind of thing that kills firefighters, and if you get ahead of yourself, we're then having to rescue the rescuer, and that's not something we like to do."

In May, a 37-year-old Savannah woman died when she fell over one of the park's waterfalls, NBC station WXIA of Atlanta reported.

Andrew Kozak contributed.