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A Chicago man was killed after falling off Shortoff Mountain on Sunday.

Austin Howell, 31, was reportedly free climbing in one of the most difficult parts of the Linville Gorge when he fell about 80 feet, according to a release from Burke County Emergency Management. Burke County Emergency Communications received the call at around 11:46 a.m.

At around 1:18 p.m., rescue crews reached Howell using rappelling equipment while other climbers performed CPR on him. He was pronounced dead at around 2:30 p.m., the release said.

Specific details of the accident are unknown at this time, the release said. The U.S. Forest Service is investigating the accident.

Rescuers from Burke County Rescue Squad, Burke EMS, Burke County Emergency Management, Burke REACT, Lake James Fire Rescue, Chesterfield Fire Rescue, South Mountain Fire Rescue, Oak Hill Fire Rescue, Glen Alpine Fire Department, Avery County Rescue Squad, Parkway Fire Rescue, North Carolina Emergency Management, North Carolina National Guard, North Carolina Helo Aquatic Rescue Team and the U.S. Forest Service all responded to the call.

More information will be published as it becomes available.

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