Police remaining tight-lipped on bluff fall investigation
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Channel 3 is learning new details about a man who fell to his death near the Hunter Museum of Art in downtown Chattanooga. It happened around 7 p.m. Saturday.
His name is Tsani Youngdeer. He's 22 years old and from Cherokee, North Carolina. Investigators aren't saying why he was in Chattanooga, if he was visiting, working or a student.
Detectives did say alcohol played a role here.
Monday, the bluff was quiet, with police tape crumpled up in the trash. But Saturday night, it was the scene of a fatal fall.
"I believe the caller had said that his nephew had fallen," Chattanooga Fire Department Battalion Chief Philip Hyman says.
When rescue crews arrived, they say 22-year-old Tsani Youngdeer was lying dead on the rocks 50 feet below his last step. It was directly under the walking path that sits just below the museum's overlook.
"Yeah, we have had people fall from the bluff and stuff like that. This is the first time, here on this specific spot where we've actually had to rig ropes up to retrieve somebody," Hyman says.
Nearby residents and tourists watched as crews made a pulley system to haul Youngdeer's body back up the cliff.
"The way the vegetation was arranged and the shallow water right there, we couldn't have got a fire boat close to him," Hyman says.
"It's a tragedy, and I think it's terrible," Tamara Wendt says.
The horrifying scene has many questioning how he fell.
"Hard to see how it's possible. There's several barricades and fences as you can see, a lot of bushes and different things to keep people from falling over the edge," Mitch Brown says.
Chattanooga Police won't say who Youngdeer was with at the time, but say witnesses reported that he climbed over the railing and slipped.
"I just feel really bad for his family that he chose to make that kind of decision," Jean Burgin says.
"It's extremely sad. Twenty-two years old. He was just starting to live and explore the world and now he's made the wrong choices," Brown says.
Since police report that alcohol was a factor, some hope this serves as a warning of how your judgement can be clouded under the influence.
"Have two or three, don't go crazy because this is a good example. You can end a young life very early," Wendt says.
Many are saying prayers for his family in back in North Carolina.
Channel 3 asked Chattanooga Police if the death was ruled accidental or if criminal charges could be coming, but they said they aren't commenting on that at this time.
Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story as they become available.