Former Atlanta firefighter dies after Tallulah Gorge swimming accident

Former Atlanta firefighter Tavaris Slade died after a swimming accident at Tallulah Gorge.

ATLANTA — A man who’d been injured on the job as an Atlanta firefighter two years ago died in a weekend accident at Tallulah Gorge State Park, authorities said.

Tavaris Slade, 38, of Jonesboro, was swimming Sunday when he went underwater at the Sliding Rock trail, Georgia Department of Natural Resources spokesman Mark McKinnon said.

After nearly five minutes, authorities pulled him out of the water and performed CPR. They revived Slade and planned to fly him to a hospital using a Department of Natural Resources helicopter, McKinnon said. But Slade never made it.

He died about noon Sunday, before he could be flown to the hospital, McKinnon said. He said many local and state agencies assisted in rescue efforts.

Authorities have not said what caused Slade to go underwater.

Slade was a U.S. Army veteran from Savannah.

Though he had not returned to work after a 2015 work-related accident, Atlanta fire Sgt. Cortez Stafford said it was not clear if Slade and the fire department had formally severed ties.

In the accident while he was working at Atlanta fire station No. 11 in northwest Atlanta, Slade fractured vertebrae and his skull and broke a foot, Stafford said.

He described Slade, who he worked with for four years, as a good person and firefighter who could “always make you laugh.”

Tallulah Gorge park is along the Rabun and Habersham county line, about 100 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta.

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