Chicago man falls to death while rock climbing in North Carolina

MORGANTON, N.C. (WLS) -- A Chicago man died while rock climbing in North Carolina, according to local authorities.

Austin Howell, 31, was reportedly free climbing in a difficult portion of the Linville Gorge on Shortoff Mountain in Morganton, North Carolina, on Sunday when he apparently fell about 80 feet, officials said. Emergency crews were first contacted at about 11:45 a.m. local time 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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