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. Tee hee


    July 21, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Face down in the water

    JENNIFUR AIWAZZI -You have no more words yet you DRONE on and on. A tragic accident is one thing- a blatent disregard for posted warnings is truly lack of common sence combined with stupidity. It will cost taxpayers thousands of dollars to retrive thease bodies. Why do you think they put up guardrails and signs?

    July 21, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. Blunt force trama and stupidity

    I smell a lawsuit on behalf of the "Victoms" Except for one thing- Read the fine print on your "entrance pass" The park is NOT responsible for loss of life – bodily harm or glaring Stupidity!!!. Enter at your own risk!

    July 21, 2011 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. Amber

    No, no, no. I mistake is putting salt in your coffee instead of sugar. These souls made a choice, the knowingly ignored the sins posted every where warning them of the danger and even ignored the railing placed to keep them out of an area that is dangerous. It is very sad that they made a poor choice and died, but it was choice non the less. My sympathies to the people that had to helpless watch these people die.

    July 21, 2011 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. Justin

    Suicide pact or hapless accident? Rest in peace.

    July 21, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. Rejina

    Listen these three people were my cousins and i miss them very badly and god only knowes if there dead or not ok so please stop saying there dead and they didnt find there bodies because the stupid ppl who were soposed to find them gave up siriously all the other ppl in the youth that were helping the ppl find them threw the biggest fit in the world plus one of my cousins actually watched them scream and yell and try to help but it didnt work and it just breaks my heart to hear the terrible news so please pray with all your heartto save them please );

    July 21, 2011 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
    • lilly

      Take a course in grammar and spelling, please!

      July 21, 2011 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
    • kevin k in tx

      Perhaps if you and your fam would have paid attention in school you would know how to spell. This would lead to you knowing how to read, and perhaps you and your fam would not be going around gaurdrails and not following warning signs.. I say learn to read and stay alive... maybe they found an air pocket under the rocks under the falls.

      July 21, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jaky101

    Ok i know these people that went off and it sad to see there loved ones suffer. what kind of bs is the park running? a waterfall should have rangers epically after it happens once! I hope they sue because no one deserves this, there choice to go over railing or not! What if a kid went over??? the kid is innocent and doesnt know better i swear this world is full of bs now a days specialy in america!

    July 21, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Glenn1441

      Wow. Incredible. Sue? I am rather certain that the largest billboard imaginable, stating the obvious - that climbing across the barricade/guardrail will likely result in death - would not prevent individuals such as these from making that choice. And your comment makes it rather plain that you would have chosen to join them if present.

      July 21, 2011 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
    • kevin k in tx

      probably the dumbest argument ever. I will sue Ford now because my truck can do 80 mph and i got a ticket.. SUEING FORD NOW B/C THEY MADE A CAR THAT WAS TOO FAST!! Morons.

      July 21, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Max

      Jaky, it's good to be sympathetic, but the thought of a lawsuit against the park angers me terribly. Our lives are already overly sheltered to protect against the careless few. Wilderness areas should be respected for their inherent dangers. I hope others will learn from these peoples' horrible mistake. Even moreso, I hope my rights to enjoy wilderness areas such as this one will not be trampled on by such a frivolous lawsuit.

      July 21, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      You are correct that a child would be innocent. If one did fall into those waters, then the parent or guardian should do jail time.

      July 21, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Michael Clark

    It was a tourist group of about 10. A young couple from the group was posing for a picture on a rock just beyond the barrier. The woman slipped. The man reached for her and fell. Another man from the group tried to help and fell in as well. Brief information on the three: David was studying music production at Modesto Jr. College, Yacoub was studying chemistry at a California State University and Badal was studying at the University of San Francisco to become a doctor.

    July 21, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. Darwin WINS !!!

    WHO Cares who was studying where? Beyond the Barrier? Why didnt they study the warning signs.? People from Modesto are Pucking STUPID. Scott Peterson. Carey Staynor. Kate Ruggeri. Long live natural selection!!!

    July 21, 2011 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. Freddie

    Is this incident any different than deaths on the highway because people don't respect speed limits or deaths partying because people don't know when to stop? There just aren't enough rangers, traffic cops, or party chaperones to go around. And I doubt if there are enough Darwin Awards either.

    July 21, 2011 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
  11. #1 in car thefts-crackheads -HO S

    Dont forget Gary Condit -George Lucas (pretentious JERK) Enerest and Julio Gallo- Slave drivers. Anyone that ever worked at the Modesto Bee newspaper. Bonnie Quintero. (see Lucas ref).

    July 21, 2011 at 4:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. Michael East


    July 21, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. oh_lol

    sue the waterfall

    July 21, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  14. MEHanks

    Back on point...... yes, it's sad that anyone would make this decision and have this result, BUT we are each RESPONCIBLE for our own decisions. Not the park, the rangers, other hikers, the state of California etc. I grew up in and love the state but won't live there because of the peoples lack of responsibility is rampid. God bless the missing three, their families, and anyone hurting on this very sad occasion.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • wiley

      This is some of the best LOL reading I have seen in a long time.

      July 22, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • MotoJB

      We are also each RESPONSIBLE for being "edumucated" enough to be able to spell RESPONSIBLE.

      July 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • MotoJB


      July 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Marie

    Based on the decision of ALL THREE...Can't say I feel sorry for them...Especially if people were even warning them to move away...On the upside...Atleast these three can no longer reproduce and contribute to the gene pool...We have enough breeders who lack common sense floating around...ex: Casey Anthony

    July 21, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Christine

      And your a cold-hearted person. I hope your not reproducing any kids. They might come out to be ignorant person like you.

      July 22, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • gretagarbo

      Yes, they did something dumb. They were in their twenties and people in that age bracket often do stupid things. They make bad decisions. I just think that many of you posting rude comments are reprehensible. I feel sad for them and for their families and friends and those who witnessed this. Some people don't realize the dangers of water currents and how strong they are and how slippery rocks can be. I just feel young people can be oblivious to the dangers.

      July 22, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      you cold hearted biatch!!!!! your karma will come.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      @ Marie
      How dare you. Of all the people who make mistakes which Im sure you have in your life like maybe run a red light accidentally or even drive the wrong direction accidentally on a one-way street, this is an ultimate price. To say such a thing means you have no conscience. The only mistake I see is the moment your parents conceived you. Heartless Byatch!

      December 20, 2011 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
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