UPDATE: Cause of death ruled as 'unknown' in 2014 Signal Point f - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Cause of death ruled as 'unknown' in 2014 Signal Point fall

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Search and rescue crews at Signal Point. Search and rescue crews at Signal Point.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: The Hamilton County Medical Examiner's office has ruled that the 2014 death of Dalton Downing as 'unknown' following the 20-year old's fall from Signal Point.

The toxicology screen also showed no drugs or other substances in the man's body.

Dalton fell nearly 100 feet to his death in December of 2014.


PREVIOUS STORY: The four-hour recovery of the body of a missing hiker concluded in the rain Tuesday afternoon. Chattanooga Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue Team assisted the Signal Mountain Fire Department in the recovery efforts.

Search and rescue workers spent nearly 10 hours on the scene where a 20-year-old Memphis-area man, reported missing earlier Tuesday morning was been found dead at Signal Point.

Emergency crews found the man 100 feet off the edge of a bluff where they were searching. 

READ MORE | Neighbor remembers man killed in fall from bluff

The man's father, who resides in Memphis, traveled to Chattanooga after his 20-year-old son, Dalton Downing, went missing.

Downing was a student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and according to friends, was called "Sunshine" from "Remember The Titans" movie character, played by actor Kip Pardue.

Emergency first responders started searching Tuesday morning at Signal Point Park just before 2 a.m., according to Signal Mountain Fire Chief Eric Mitchell. 

Downing's body was found about five hours later.

His father remained at the scene and wept as he made phone calls to loved ones. A chaplain was called to offer words of comfort to Downing's father. 

Downing, who is also a Memphis resident, was visiting friends in Chattanooga, Mitchell said.

As many as seven crew members were rappelling to find him. 

The park, which provides a view of the Tennessee River Gorge, is full of rocky terrain and precipitous bluffs. 

"Any trail rescue is challenging because of terrain and location, but you add in darkness and rain which makes [it] slippery," Mitchell said. "That makes it extremely hazardous for the crews who were searching."

A sheriff's dog had to be called off because rain can wash away the scent they are tracking. First responders say visibility was poor with fog blanketing the area.

Leaves on trails can create slick paths for hikers. It's unclear what happened to Downing, Mitchell said. Signal Mountain police are conducting an investigation. 

Initially, Downing's friends attempted to locate him. They knew he went hiking by himself. When they found his belongings, they called 911, Mitchell said.

Signal Point is located at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. The park includes a trail, that is part of the Cumberland Trail system, which stretches just over eight miles.  It's the smallest park in the national park system, according to the town's website.

Numerous agencies assisted with the search including: Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, Hamilton County EMS, Signal Mountain Fire and Rescue and Walden's Ridge Emergency Services as well as Dallas Bay Fire and Rescue. 

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