Current Date: Mon, 20 May 2013 04:30:50 -0400
UNC sophomore and Cary resident Eric Metcalf died Sunday evening in a rock climbing accident at Hanging Rock State Park. He was 19 years old.
Charlie Peek, a spokesman for the N.C. Division of Parks of Recreation, said Metcalf was rappelling on Moore’s Wall and fell about 270 feet around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Peek said Metcalf’s body was recovered around 8:45 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
Metcalf was an experienced climber. He climbed Mount Elbert, the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, in 2008 and Grand Teton in 2009.
Peek said Metcalf was climbing with three friends when the accident occurred, and an investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing.
Eric Metcalf’s parents, Jim Metcalf and Kim Berthiaume, said their son was an avid listener and player of classical music. Jim Metcalf said his son could play complex Bach pieces on the piano from memory.
Metcalf’s parents said he edited more than 200 Wikipedia entries and donated annually to the website. Eric was also an Eagle Scout.
“Eric was a very discriminating young man; he knew who he was and what he was about,” Berthiaume said.
“He loved being a Tar Heel at UNC,” she said.
Metcalf was a mathematics major and distinguished scholar at UNC. The Distinguished Scholarship provides $2,500 annually to academically talented N.C. students.
Peek said a man died while climbing at Chimney Rock State Park last year, but he does not remember any fatal accidents occurring at Hanging Rock State Park in recent years.
The park requires all climbers to apply for a permit before climbing in designated areas at specific times. Peek said the accident occurred at a designated climbing area and was not known as a dangerous zone.
“It is important to know what you’re doing and have experience before you go rock climbing because it’s simply a dangerous sport,” Peek said.
UNC sophomore Austin Duncan was Metcalf’s roommate last year.
Duncan said Metcalf was his best friend in college, and he will help organize a memorial service.
The service is tentatively scheduled to be held at Moore’s Wall in Hanging Rock State Park on July 21. Duncan said about 100 of Metcalf’s friends have been invited so far.
“He just went for it, he took chances and he lived his life with such passion for everything that he did,” Duncan said.
“It’s just tough to see a person like that go.”
Funeral services for Metcalf will be held Sunday in Morrisville.
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