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. rob2tall

    Sounds a bit like suicide

    July 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RON

    I only hope they find the bodies so the families can have some closure. As far as the why's and how's of what
    happened, I don't think it's our place to make judgement.

    July 20, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. scott s

    The name is enough warning waterfall fall being the keyword and like everest and in all nature trying to save someones life might be the last nice thing you do

    July 20, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Breeze

    No matter what rules and regulations a government puts into place a true fool will always find a way around them. Respect life and it will respect you and let you live..

    July 20, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chuck

    I guess the guardrail was there for a good reason.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I've experienced water, but I already knew about it from good public schools.
    I wonder how much time teachers have today to explain such forces to their students.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dick

    ...Paging Mr. Darwin – is Mr. Darwin present?

    July 20, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ed Peterson

    numerology for Hormiz David, Ninos Yacoub, and Ramina Badal:


    July 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SeaDogg

    It does not (according to the evidence currently available) appear to be a 'mistake', nor an 'accident'.
    Is it sad for their families? Yes. Was it incredibly irresponsible and stupid? Yes.
    If you willfully ignore signs, defeat safety features and pay the ultimate price...well, maybe you were best used as a warning to others.
    By trying to make things foolproof, we breed bigger fools.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. U.S. Dept. of Urging

    No...they successfully urged them. -The tourists just didn't heed the urging.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    A strong ego is a terrific asset, but that depends of what your definition of "ego" is.
    Humility is overrated.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ted

    They didn't make a "mistake" – they ignored several warning signs, climbed over a guardrail and failed to heed both warnings and pleas to keep away from the water by numerous witnesses. They were idiots, plain and simple, and they earned their deaths through their abject stupidity.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jennifer Aiwazzi

    I honestly can't believe what I just read. First of all the fact that these 3 souls lost their lives. Secondly that everyone is calling them stupid! Seriously? Is there nothing else to talk about? I am Assyrian and proud of it BUT honestly what does that matter? Who cares of their race, their age, if they were man or woman, their faith, where they were from? A human being is a human being for crying out loud. What happened to society? Haven't we all made foolish mistakes? I'm sorry, I guess some people are perfect. The heartache and loss that these families are going to have to go thru....is completely unbearable. What a loss. I have no more words. Sad and pathetic to those who have anything hateful, racist or distasteful to say about this tragic story. Please keep your comments to yourself. Their families don't need to read your opinions. Please have some respect.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ghost

    Bad debt summer vacation.... Time to close the parks.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. lou50

    Mr. Cobb needs a new job. people are not responsible enough to take care of them selves and make decisions relative to warning signs. now the tax payer will have to pay for these idiots and what this idiot said when it gets to court.

    July 20, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darius III

      Lou, that's really a stupid viewpoint. These people were adults, at least legally. If they chose to disregard obvious warnings at their folly, it's their own responsibility. Mr Cobb is absolutely right. You need to step back and take a deep breath.

      July 21, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
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