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Warrior man falls to his death while taking photo in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

FILE  - Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)
FILE - Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)
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UPDATE: If you were to ask one of the voices of the Hayden High School Wildcats, Robert Bradford, how he would describe Wesley Brandon Stedham, you would hear things such as larger than life, a family man, witty and much more. However, at the end of the day, Bradford said Stedham was simply a friend.

Bradford remembers it like it was yesterday. He can close his eyes and picture the time he met Wesley Brandon Stedham. It was five years ago Friday night, and the Hayden Wildcats were playing Anniston, and all of a sudden, a storm came in. Bradford, who does radio for Hayden, said on the Anniston side of the field, there was a man sitting in the stands getting rained on. Bradford sent a few folks out with umbrellas in hand to bring the man into the press box to stay dry.

Little did Bradford know, Stedham saw and heard the exchange to help the opposing fan out. Once the final seconds ticked off the clock, Stedham approached Bradford to not only complement him on the way he calls games, but to tell him he appreciated what he did for the man.

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That chance encounter, led to a friendship unlike any other. Stedham, a high school football enthusiast, eventually started calling games and doing the radio show for Hayden. Bradford and Stedham would call away games together, while Stedham and another gentleman called the home games, with Bradford serving as public address announcer.

The two would talk almost every day. Never in a million years did Bradford think a message from his friend on Tuesday would be one of the last ones he would get.

According to a release from the National Park Service, Stedham fell about 50 feet “after stepping down a steep slope below the overlook for a photograph" in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"I still don't want to accept it," Bradford said. "I still want to not believe it. Still want to think my phone is going to ring. You just don't think something like that is going to happen to somebody so full of life like Brandon was."

For Hayden High School Head Football Coach, Keith Register, Stedham helped spread the word of Hayden High School football both near and far. He said his presence in the booth at home and on the road will be sorely missed.

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"The loss of that voice on a Friday night is going to be a big time difference," Register said. "He means a lot to this football program and the things he did for the football program."

While the booth at Robert Reid Stadium will be a little more quiet this upcoming season, Bradford said the man who was larger than life, would want the game to go on. Bradford said it was never about Brandon; it was all about the kids. Bradford said a time like this shows the importance of not taking life for granted and telling people you love them.

"Brandon was larger than life in more than one way, and he loved that way, and he cared," Bradford said. "We all should learn from Brandon to love family and enjoy life because he definitely enjoyed life."

While the Wildcats will not kickoff for a few more months, a tribute for Stedham is set to take place in the future.

ORIGINAL STORY: A Warrior man fell to his death Tuesday while trying to take a photo from a scenic outlook at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The National Park Service confirmed in a news release that Wesley Brandon Stedham, 48, of Warrior fell about 50 feet “after stepping down a steep slope below the overlook for a photograph."

Witnesses told investigators it happened around 1:40 p.m. at Chimney Tops overlook.

The park reported, “Stedham suffered severe head trauma and passed away as a result of these injuries.”

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Park rangers rappelled down by rope to reach Stedham's body, officials said.

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