61-year-old woman falls to death off 150-foot cliff at Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

A 61-year-old woman fell 150 feet to her death from a steep cliff on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina on Sept. 23, the National Park Service said in a news release.

Nancy Sampson of South Carolina, died as a result of injuries from her fall at Glassmine Falls Overlook, the release said.

Dispatch operators received a call a little after noon on Saturday of a female who had fallen down the cliff. NPS law enforcement rangers arrived on the scene and confirmed Sampson had died.

"Rescuers were able to locate Sampson approximately 150 feet below the overlook," the release said.

Family member at the scene was 'distraught'

Her body was recovered by first responders from Reems Creek Fire Department, with assistance from Mount Mitchell State Park rangers and a Trauma Intervention Program of Western North Carolina volunteer.

The Reems Creek Fire Dept. said that rescue crews were able to "rappel over 100 feet down and locate the hiker, who had succumbed to their injuries."

A family member present at the scene was "distraught" according to the Trauma Intervention Program of Western North Carolina, who were also present.

"We are glad that one of our volunteers was able to support a family member on scene," said the organization, in a statement. "The distraught family member lives out of state and was alone following the tragic incident. The TIP volunteer went above and beyond in supporting him at the scene and helping him get back down the mountain and connect with friends who could support him after this tragic loss."

'My heart is broken'

The victim's husband, Robert Sampson, speaking to The Guardian said he and his family were "all grieving deeply."

“She had a huge heart and a glowing smile that everyone loved," Sampson told The Guardian. “My heart is broken – I will miss her smile and kind heart.”

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Glassmine Falls Overlook

Glassmine Falls Overlook is approximately 25 miles northeast from Asheville and about three miles north of the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center and six miles south of the entrance to Mount Mitchell State Park.

The main attraction in the area is a tall, skinny waterfall that can be seen in the distance across the valley from the overlook, which requires a bit of effort to get to. However, the waterfall is not an everyday sight and requires a bit of luck, according to the NPS, who recommends planning your visit after a rainy day for the best views.

Meanwhile, the Blue Ridge Parkway curves along some of the highest peaks in the Eastern United States, stretching 469 miles from its start at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, passing through Asheville, and ending at the entrance to the Great Smokies in Cherokee. It is the most visited unit in the National Park Service, with some 15.7 million visitors in 2022.

Fall scenes along the Blue Ridge Parkway October 19, 2022.
Fall scenes along the Blue Ridge Parkway October 19, 2022.

6th fatality this year

Parkway spokesperson Leesa Brandon told the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network, that Sampson is the sixth fatality on the parkway so far this year. There were a total of 13 deaths on the parkway in 2022, she said. Brandon said there have not been any falls, serious injuries or fatalities previously reported at the Glassmine Falls Overlook.

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Karen Chávez is Executive Editor for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Tips, comments, questions? Email, or follow on Twitter @KarenChavezACT.

Saman Shafiq is a trending news reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at and follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @saman_shafiq7.

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Blue Ridge Parkway death: Woman fell from Glassmine Falls Overlook