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. Joey

    The video in Rajiv's posting is very sad. Sadder still is the lack of empathy and compasion that other poster's display.
    There is an ever-increasing worldwide lack of feelings for others, refusal to compromise, and intolerance that is driving the human society further apart. We are better than that and should act so.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • iamthefredman

      You cannot have sympathy for stupidity. Darwin's Theory on survival of the fittest is evidenced here.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Agreed

      And before I got a chance to agree, someone else proved my point. OBVIOUSLY, WE ARE NOT BETTER THAN THAT. And yes, it is extremely sad.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. Beadlesaz

    I wish parents would keep their children off the computer. It would be nice to read intelligent, sensitive comments while discussing current events.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Craig

      I DO agree. Go play outside, David.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • akb47

      Unfortunately, I have a feeling the comments are not being made by children, but, made by adults.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Chr

      Anyone willing to have an honest discussion deserves a voice....im 23 and hated being treated like what I had to say didnt matter.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Oh, that big bad internet and all those bad bad people who use it. Son, you're the one who needs to grow up. Or maybe just call the internet sheriff and report all these bad people. Piffle...

      July 20, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      I'd like to ask the other family members who witnessed it: "Well, other than that, how was the trip to Yosemite?"

      July 20, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. MIKE

    I hope they don't sue and now we have to fence in the river and falls and put in safety catch ropes

    July 20, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Mountain Junky

      There's already a fence there but they reportedly jumped the fence.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • James M

      It's really not much of a fence. I'll bet people go on the other side of it all the time. http://geoimages.berkeley.edu/Waterfalls/ClarksPointVernalFalls.html

      July 20, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BPstinks

    Apparently the parents encouraged their children to disobey the signs too.......so sad......

    July 20, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. Diane

    Except that it's the Merced River; not the Kern. And I'm offended by your remarks that they must be hispanic. How does that possibly matter?

    July 20, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. NYC REPUB

    A tragedy.....R.I.P.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. sophia

    Wow...sounds a little racist...don't think much of Sourthern Californias...or people in general?...all life is precious...just sayin.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • John McClane

      Idiots are not precious. You must be one of them.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • John McClane

      Stupid people are not precious. They are a burden to society.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DeeMadison

    what if it were one of your family members? would you really care where you all were from? no, you'd be the first one's at the scene and then suing the parks department for not having ropes around the falls..

    July 20, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachel M

      There is a FENCE at that spot. With SIGNS saying not to go in the water. What's to sue about?

      July 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      Absolutely not. I would be heartbroken, but know I would not sue.

      July 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Henny

    It is really sad that someone may have lost their lives. But also, people need to use their brains when hiking around waterfalls and other dangerous areas. We have waterfalls in my area and i have seen young people climbing on rocks near the water with no parental control whatsoever. Then if something does happen to the child, will the parents take the blame? No, they would rather sue the city because fo their own negligence.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  10. Karen

    None of these comments is worth reading.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Craig

      *are worth reading. If you're going to criticize, do it with proper grammar at least.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Caihlyn

      You are correct to use "none is" as an indefinite subject usually take the singular form of the verb, the prepositional phrase does not affect the choice of verb.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Meandwhatarmy*

      Craig, Karen is correct. None is singular.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • omg

      Including yours.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Grammar cop

      Actually, her grammar is correct. None is a contraction of "not one." Therefore her statement is "Not one of the comments is worth reading." The subject is "one," therefore the verb is singular. Since you're judging grammar...

      July 20, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. rikers

    A terrible tragedy, but why do people take chances?

    July 20, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. Karen

    No comment here is worth reading.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • oldostritch

      Even corrected yours isn't worth reading. Maybe !0% are on a good day though.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. Laurie

    I went to Yosemite in JUNE. The water was so high , it was hard to get close to the falls without getting soaking wet. The rangers were searching for someone that was missing when I was there. Since the water is so high it was really over crowed to were you had to stand in the buses like sardines. Anyway what a tragic loss . My heart goes out to the familys Im so sorry for your loss. I know the loss is awful grief but there cant be a more beautiful place to pass away. Gods beauty and what a peaceful place. I know that doesnt take away the pain of loss but If I had a choice to chose my last day it would be Yoseimite what a beautiful place.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Yes, a wonderful place to die. I'll bet "Gods beauty" can only be truly appreciated when witnessing family members plummeting off a 300+ foot waterfall. And the morons, as they cleared the top of the falls and realized they were going to die, were no doubt praising "God" for singling them out for such a fate.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • James M

      Your comment reminds me why I don't bother going to places like that. There's nothing in it for me if I'm "standing with a huge crowd of other people like sardines" to see some natural wonder. I'm way more interested in going to some mundane place in nature, so much the better if there's nothing interesting about it to attract busloads of tourists.

      July 20, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. draya

    Heather.... you are a mean person or maybe a white holier than thou person.
    There's alot of spanish people in this country, that's why the signs are in spanish. Don't be stupid.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  15. paulh

    its too bad that people cant remain mature and offer respectful comments. The story here is that 3 people have likely died. Race, ethnicity, etc isnt the issue. Something caused the fall and until the Park Rangers investigate and determine a cause, lets all be respectful.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachel M

      These two people disregarded the fence and posted signs saying not to go down to the water's edge. They then encouraged their small children to join them. Before the kids could get there, they saw the parents swept into the water. The third person killed was an adult relative who jumped in to try to pull them out after they slipped. Sounds like a shut a closed case of the stupids to me.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
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