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. Dr. Bombay


    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVN9KnWy-H8&w=560&h=349%5D

    July 20, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. Observant

    Phil, obviously your comment portrays you as non educated. I need not to say more.

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


      July 20, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachel M


      July 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Matt

    However you assumed he was Caucasian....

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

      High likelihood, I would assume that too.

      July 20, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • GF


      July 21, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. ELH

    As I recall, the pool basin is mostly a pile of very big jagged rocks. Zero chance for survival. What precipitated the accident is unknown at this time, but most certainly involved some level of bad judgement on the part of the victims.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. Yosemite Fan

    There is a more comprehensive article at msnbc: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43815801/ns/us_news-life/

    The above article indicates that it was a husband/wife (not sure if this is accurate) and someone else (?). It also says that right after they climbed over the guardrail that witnesses saw them encourage their kids to climb over with them. I really hope that's not accurate.

    I've been there and have seen all the very explicit warning signs: "you will die". I simply do not understand after seeing the falls and all the rocks (there is NO CHANCE of surviving this fall) that ANYONE would attempt this. Stupid, stupid, stupid, but I wouldn't want someone wept over the edge and dying over their stupid decision.

    July 20, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • blackm

      Thanks for the info. It seems like some of the stories on CNN leave out important details that we as readers have to only guess what really happened. The link you sent was definitely better coverage. Thx

      July 20, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • don

      Scary also is the fact these people can vote !

      July 20, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • blackm

      Yah, I just watched the msn video...thought about all the times I have seen movies where people go off waterfalls and live (Last of the Mohicans comes first to mind)...okay, not thinking it is possible to survivie now...darn movies:-)

      July 20, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. Matt Matics

    Happy landings.....Look at below.....

    July 20, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Whats really scary is that people like you are allowed to breed.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • blackm

      BTW it is look OUT below

      July 20, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Playjojo

      How embarrassing to be you. You even screw up trying to be nasty. Must be your lot in life to be a loser, huh?

      July 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. suesark

    I really am completely at a loss after reading these posts! I am losing faith in mankind. A sad commentary on humanity.

    July 20, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      These comments show what parents are not doing with their kids. Teaching them, being a real parent. Some of the comments may be from an adult, anyone over 18, but lots of those are immature too. Education now is just an after throught in most statesb because fo the expense. The USA is developing a mass of people that are puppets or robots, without any brain power or thinking process. USA is a sad nation.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. Veritas

    Evolution at work, survival of the fittest.

    July 20, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. ScottM

    Stupid is stupid. It knows no race.

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

    removed from the gene pool via waterfall. darwin wins again. while tragic for the loss, you have to be a complete idiot to climb over a guardrail that has signs stating "YOU WILL DIE!"

    July 20, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  11. ScottM

    @suesark, I lose faith in mankind every time I get on the freeway. People are freakin' idiots.

    July 20, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    It's obvious you don't own a brain. It is obvious you don't have any education either. Why don't you try to get your GED.

    July 20, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  13. James

    Darwin Award candidates for sure.

    July 20, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. Debbie

    The race does not determine who dies in the FAlls, it could be how tired the person is from hiking, or the bad choice the person makes by doing stupid things like getting too close, or climbing over the rails. I am caucasian and I was up there last week. More caucasians have fallen over the falls than anyone. I could not believe how many people got too close on rocks and even let their children play in the water close to the falls and undercurrents!

    This is very sad!!!

    July 20, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  15. Laslow

    Similar situation happened in India recently... check out the liveleak video if you think you can handle it: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=2cb_1310988327

    July 20, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
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