Published On: Sun, Jun 28th, 2020

Tragic drowning occurs near Oconaluftee Visitor Center


At approximately 5:20 p.m. on Saturday, June 27, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers responded to a drowning in progress on the Oconaluftee River behind the Mountain Farm Museum in Cherokee.  Witnesses reported that a young man, Bulmaro Morales, 32, of Dudley, heroically jumped into the river to save a juvenile family member in distress.  

When rangers arrived on scene, the juvenile was safe on shore, but Morales had not resurfaced.  Rangers immediately joined with bystanders to search for Morales.  He was found under water, approximately 10-feet deep, unresponsive.  Life-saving efforts were conducted but were unsuccessful.  Cherokee EMS and Cherokee Fire and Rescue assisted with the incident.   No additional details are available at this time.

– National Park Service release