Hikers presumed dead after falling over Yosemite waterfall
Waterfalls like Yosemite's Vernal Fall have been swollen by near-record snowmelt in the high Sierra.
July 20th, 2011
09:30 PM ET

Hikers presumed dead after falling over Yosemite waterfall

[Updated 9:30 p.m. ET] Three Yosemite National Park tourists are presumed dead after climbing over a guardrail into the Merced River, park officials said Wednesday.

"So far we have seen no clues or no evidence of any of the bodies," said Kari Cobb, a spokeswoman for Yosemite National Park. "We are presuming that all three of them are dead ... we will scale up the search once the water levels have receded and we can insert crews to look for the bodies in the river safely."

Ramina Badal, 21, and Hormiz David, 22, both of Modesto, California; and Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock, California, had hiked the popular Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Fall at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Vernal Fall is 317 feet high. The Mist Trail is the most popular trail in Yosemite National Park and attracts between 1,500 and 2,500 people a day, according to Kari Cobb, a spokeswoman for Yosemite National Park.

Witnesses unsuccessfully urged the hikers to return to shore as they watched them step into the swift, cold water about 25 feet from the cliff's edge, park officials said.

There are signs at the head of the trail that warn of danger and fast-moving water, the park said.

"Visitors that want to go around guardrails ... it's up to them," Cobb said. "It's something that does happen and it's completely up to the visitor to know what safety concerns are around and take responsibility for their own actions."

Yosemite rangers continued to search Wednesday, concentrating on each side of the Merced River downstream from the fall, the release said.

After a huge winter snow and a cool spring and summer, the park's rivers and streams have been running at higher-than-normal levels for this year, and will remain high for several weeks, park officials said.

Before Tuesday's incident, there were three water-related deaths in Yosemite National Park this year.

[Posted 7:46 a.m. ET] A search is under way in Yosemite National Park for three people who may have been swept over the 317-foot-high Vernal Fall on the Merced River in eastern California.

Park rangers have closed the Mist Trail to the fall until at least noon Wednesday, saying they are conducting a search after receiving unconfirmed reports of one or more visitors being swept over the fall.

Witnesses told CNN affiliate KGPE-TV that three people were swept over the fall around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“I saw the man’s eyes when he went over the falls. That was devastating,” witness Jacob Bibee told KGPE.

Other witnesses said two men and a woman went into the water and over the fall into a rocky pool below.

“I saw two that were holding each other and one that was floating alone through the water. And the reason that I looked was because this woman was screaming, running along the edge of the water,” witness Dean Sabo told KGPE.

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Filed under: California
soundoff (409 Responses)
  1. RANGER SMITH

    Look, this is what happens when kids come to the park who can't read english. Blame the CA schools for these unnecessay deaths. We need teachers who can read and write english, so they can teach it, obviously.

    July 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • guardrail

      why alwasy looking for someone/something else to blame? they went around a guardrail to get into moving water 25 feet from the cliff edge. reading english shouldn't be a requirement to figure this one out.

      "Visitors that want to go around guardrails ... it's up to them," Cobb said. "It's something that does happen and it's completely up to the visitor to know what safety concerns are around and take responsibility for their own actions."

      July 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously?

      Should people really need signs to tell them that going anywhere near the waters edge just above a major waterfall is a bad idea?

      July 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      Got anything smart to say?

      July 21, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • tiki

      a few of the major national parks have signs in multiple languages - stupidity transcends culture - there is no way you can be at the top of vernal falls and not realize that going into the water has a large probability of death (and I visited when the water was low), regardless of signs - unless the victims were blind and deaf there was no way they didn't know the risk, still the loss of life is sad

      July 22, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      Fake ass Ranger Smith – they were born and raised here Blame your parents for raising you as such a racist....people like you shouldn't went instead of them....just saying we need to thin out the idiot herd.

      December 20, 2011 at 3:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. MP

    "Visitors that want to go around guardrails ... it's up to them," Cobb said. "It's something that does happen and it's completely up to the visitor to know what safety concerns are around and take responsibility for their own actions."

    Agred, lesson is don't be stupid

    July 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • MP

      thats "Agreed" Damn!

      July 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Contrairian

    Can anyone say "Darwin Award winners"?

    July 22, 2011 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. MotoJB

    Natural selection....end of story.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Echo6Jr

    Maybe suicide!

    July 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rex Lutherin

    Race has nothing to do with this. What this has everything to do with is respecting things that can get you killed; like high voltage, railway tracks, fast moving water currents, Casey Anthony, etc.

    July 23, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Name*Randyman917

    How stupid can 3 people be? Nuke me if u want ,but stupid is as stupid does! They r still dead.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. Nor-Cal Gal

    I just got back from Yosemite and was there when the young lady fell from Half Dome on Sunday when it was raining hard in the Valley. It is a tragedy that people can loose there life in such a beautiful place as Yosemite, It is a constant reminder to read the signs that are posted, check weather conditions and read all information regarding safety while you are in the park. We love Yosemite, but respect nature as it is forever changing.

    August 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
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