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. John

    Well there is a nice calm "swimming hole" at the top of Vernal falls ... maybe that's what those no swimming signs were all about?

    July 20, 2011 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. bozo

    101 ways to leave a gameshow...

    July 20, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. James

    We live in a country where EVERY HAVE A RIGHT to be stupid. The problem is this "Robinhood Country" forces everyone else to accept and PAY for their stupid decesions. They force taxes on the middle income without representation. I know! They claim to represent us when they run for office, however as soon as they get there they do what they want to do.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • just_another_idiot

      Doesn't mean you have to exercise that right in front of the rest of us.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      The middle class gets quite a bit of representation and that's the problem. They think that anyone who makes more than them is a liar and a cheat and anyone who makes less is lazy. They want free stuff that someone else pays for that they should really pay for themselves. And they whine whine whine..... They complain about taxes, but can't wait to hand over their money to pro athletes (9 billion a year to the NFL alone) so they can sit on their butts, drink beer, and cram nachos in their faces. The middle class is a bunch of boobs.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • just_another_idiot

      Norm, I haven't quite worked out how redistribution of wealth will prevent people from going over waterfalls to their certain death, but thanks for the insights. I can see that this is obviously Obama's fault that these people died.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. observer

    Shure are a lot of cokeheads on these blogs.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. David

    They jumped over a railing to get a better view of the falls, and the view was spectacular for a little while.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Benny

      I believe you actually ment:

      "They jumped over a railing to get a better view of the falls, and the view was spectacular" ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM.

      Just sayin'

      July 20, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. YosemiteSam

    They weren't swimming. They were sitting on the water's edge, dipping their legs in the water to cool off. But the strength of the current swept them into the water. And that was that.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachel M

      I bet they were all sure trying to swim once the current dragged them in. Idiots.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jason

    Personally, I wish that everyone who injects partisan politics into every single story (I count 3 in the comments so far) would be swept over a waterfall.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      I'm not sure what they hope to achieve either, you have a story of several tragic deaths and someone has to turn this into a tax debate? I don't get it.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Noxx

      I agree 100%!

      July 20, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • trp48

      Agreed!

      July 20, 2011 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • rockweed

      I think anyone who wishes for the death of someone over partisan political talk in a news thread, whether or not it is appropriate, is a sick individual. Further, belittling the deaths (and lives) of the subjects of the article by using the very tragic way they died, to show your disdain for others makes you horrible person. Quite a bit more horrible than someone who interjected partisan politics without the lack of respect.

      God bless these people and their families.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Touche, Jason! It's almost comical, if this story itself weren't so tragic, how single-minded zealots inject comments about politics, religion, space aliens or other completely unrelated subjects into ANY discussion.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Alive & Well!

    I live in Bakersfield, Ca. we have the killer Kern River. There's hundreds of signs in English & Spanish everywhere stating the dangers of the Kern, & even tv commercials & print ads in Los Angeles, yet every year there's always people from So Cal (LA area specifically) who drown in the Kern. There's already been at least 3 or 4 confirmed drownings in '11, & I believe at least 2 others are still missing. So this is no surprise at all. All rivers are very high this year. STAY OUT!

    July 20, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Heather L

      and WHY do we have the signs in Spanish......?

      July 20, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      What about the Chinese? or the Russians? or..... what about them? Those 3 or 4 might have been saved had that sign been in EVERY language. (ok.. I was joking)

      July 20, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • CalDude

      maybe they can't read English or Spanish. They should put up signs in all languages. lol...

      July 20, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • nolapearl

      Heather, if you knew your US history, you would know that CA is full of Hispanic people and in fact was settled by Hispanic people. Their ancestors might have been in this country before yours! And Spanish happens to be the language they speak.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Just do as we do – post signs that give warnings. We cant ban people taking a dip in the nations 1000's of mountain rivers when most people are not ever at risk. If you are in flood stage and currents are deceiving then close access trails, parking lots, etc for the season.

      Doing this accidents will happen. There are probably 70 or so people who die each year in California Beach's and Pools – are we going to close those?

      July 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      "CA is full of Hispanic people" <- candidate for Understatement of the Year

      July 20, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Orlando Florida

      In 2009, the latest year figures are available, 382 people drowned in Florida, according to the state Department of Health. Of those victims, 66 were younger than 4 years old, and most of those young victims drowned in residential pools.

      Not very strong currents in pools.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Christine

      HAHAHA! That's funny cause they weren't even Hispanics. If you ignorant Americans can see that the last name "Yacoub," "Hormez," and "Badal" are all Assyrian/Chaldean names. But you Americans wouldn't know that. That's why this country lacks intelligent people.

      July 22, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Reality

    Hopefully they are found alive. Sounds like that park is a dangerous place. Maybe the government should bulldoze the whole place so that no one gets hurt anymore. Just like they want to protect us with national health care.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • JohnM

      Clearly your mental health was damaged a long time ago so I understand the health care bill wouldn't help you. But most people would like to have affordable healthcare before it's too late as in your condition.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Reality

      When that tax load hits this fragile economy in a year and a half, people will be lucky to have food let alone a doctor to go to, due to the catastrophic collapse of the U.S. economic structure. Only the people that believe in "Free Health Care" are the ones with a mental condition. You don't have a clue.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Max

      But what exactly does that have to do with this story, Reality? And why would you possibly think they survived?

      July 21, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RANGER SMITH

    So they jumped over the wall to get a better view. Big deal. You should see all the people at the Grand Canyon who do the same thing. And they put themselves in danger. On the plus side, hey, what a way to go out! Over the falls in Yos-mote or whatever it's called. Much better than being hit by a drunk driver and being killed. Or torn apart by a bear. That had to be a helluva ride for a few long moments, that'll they'll never forget even if they are reincarnated. Hoo-haa!

    July 20, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • James M

      There are far more points on the Grand Canyon that have *no* walls and *no* fences than those that do. There are unlimited opportunities to lose your bearings, lose your footing, get swept into rapids, dehydrate, get mauled by coyotes or bitten by a snake, you name it.

      July 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Amom

    More details on the KGPE link above. Apparently, one person fell over the rail and the second person tried to rescue him then the third followed. So tragic. RIP.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  12. frem

    As they say in New Hampshire – Live Free or Die.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • LiveFreeOrDie

      We don't really apply it to situations like this. But the general premise is accurate. Personal responsibility is the core tenet of the philosophy. People need to take ownership of their actions and tighten up their realities.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. CSnSC

    @nonseether and sillyrabbit. Its called sarcasm, intellegent people use it for humor here often. If you dont like it maybe you should just read the obituaries.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • oldostritch

      Thanks for informing us about sarcasm and its' use by intelligent people. Guess that rules out you using it.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  14. runswithscissors

    Can't anymore. That is politically incorrect.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. Bob

    Warnings such as "don't cross fense" or "no swimming" are sometimes very important. So is the warning of "do not die without accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, lest you be swept down a different kind of falls into an eternal abyss of the fire.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Noley

      Nice fantasy you have there, Bob.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • lee

      Can you give me a chapter and verse for that Bob?? Sounds like you are adding to the Bible. You might be on your way over the falls too!!

      July 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veritas

      Oh grow up, and quit that childish fairy tale stuff.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      You sound like a member of that evil Westboro Church.

      July 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
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