Atlanta firefighter Tavaris Slade (Credit: Atlanta Professional Firefighters Association)

Mother wants tourist attraction closed after her firefighter son dies

A local woman wants a North Georgia tourist attraction at a state park closed because her 38-year-old son died there Sunday.

Jacqueline Calhoun told Channel 2 Action News she is drained and missing a piece of her soul because her son, Atlanta firefighter Tavaris Slade, shouldn’t have died at a swimming hole at Tallulah Gorge State Park.

Slade went underwater at the Sliding Rock trail, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported

Calhoun wants that slide closed, she told Channel 2.


Her son stayed underwater for five minutes before he was revived, Georgia Department of Natural Resources spokesman Mark McKinnon said.

Slade died about noon Sunday, before he could be flown to the hospital.

State park officials told Channel 2 visitors are warned to swim at their own risk and anyone who goes to swim must sign a waiver.

Calhoun told the news station she wonders if Slade panicked underwater because he nearly drowned when he was a freshman in high school, after he had jumped off the high dive.

“I don’t want anybody else to die” Calhoun said. “I don’t want any other mother to be in my shoes.”

The mother said what saddens her most is that Slade will never get to see his son grow up.

Slade’s 13-year-old son, Brenddan, was with him when he died.

“He was devoted to being a good father,” Calhoun said. 

Jacqueline Calhoun (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

Slade served in the U.S. Army and was a firefighter in Atlanta for six years before he was seriously injured in a fire truck crash in 2015 and couldn’t return to work, Channel 2 reported.

“He loved the department, he loved the brotherhood,” Calhoun said. “He loved what he did.”

Slade’s funeral is set for Aug. 19.

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