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Family finds body of man who apparently fell while chasing his dog near Kentucky's steepest waterfall

A 23-year-old man was found dead beneath a Kentucky waterfall on Thursday, authorities said. They believe he slipped and fell while walking his dog along a trail that loops above the falls, which cascade down more than 100 feet from top to bottom, according to the state tourism department.

The man has been identified as Isaac Lee Turpin, the McCreary County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. He was originally from Somerset, a city about 45 minutes by car from Yahoo Falls, where hikers discovered his body. McCreary County Sheriff David Sampson described the hikers as an "out of town family" who phoned the dispatch center to report "a deceased male individual" submerged in water at the base of Yahoo Falls. He was still wearing what looked like a tactical backpack, they said.

Sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene and recovered Turpin's body. They confirmed at the time that he was dead. Sampson said their evaluation of the incident suggests Turpin had been hiking the Yahoo Falls trailhead with his dog when the animal suddenly got loose. It appears Turpin attempted to catch the dog and accidentally tumbled over the falls to his death, officials said. 

The McCreary County Coroners Office removed Turpin's body from the scene, the sheriff said. An autopsy will be conducted by the Kentucky Medical Examiner's Office in Frankfort. 

The National Park Service said it is also investigating the incident, since Yahoo Falls is part of the larger national park Big South Fork. Billed as the steepest waterfall in Kentucky, it descends 113 feet down a large rock house and into a pool below, according to the state. Multiple hiking trails surround the waterfall, including one that takes visitors through a full loop around the falls, from the top of the hill from which it descends down to the bottom of the creek at its base. Yahoo Falls is most abundant during the spring season.

The Kentucky Department of Tourism describes the one-mile loop around the falls as "moderate in difficulty" but says its "brevity makes it a relatively easy hike," possible to complete in less than an hour.

"Walking the loop in a clockwise direction means hikers will take steep steps down to the waterfall and a gradual climb back to the top. A counterclockwise direction means a gradual descent to the waterfall and steep steps back up," the tourism department says. It notes that the "steep metal stairs at the falls can be difficult for some hikers."

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