Yoemite Valley, CA– Three Central Valleyresidents are presumed dead after plunging over Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park.
Park officials say 22-year-old Hormiz David of Modesto, 27-year-old Ninos Yacoub of Turlock and 21-year-old Ramina Badal of Manteca came to the park for a day trip with a group of family and friends yesterday.
The group was reportedly entering the water above Vernal Fall, approximately 25 feet from the cliff. Witnesses say that several people urged the group member to step back from the river, since it was flowing swiftly and extremely cold. The area is signed as a dangerous area, and the group had crossed a metal guardrail placed there to keep visitors away from the dangerous fast moving water.
The Merced River, which feeds the 317 foot Vernal Fall, is still running at spring conditions with significant water levels resulting in a swift, dangerous current. The hike up the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall is one of the most popular hikes in the park, with upwards of 1,500 people per day ascending the trail to the top.
There have been six water related deaths in Yosemite National Park this year, including this incident. Two hikers drowned in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on June 2nd, and a hiker slipped and fell into the Merced River on the Mist Trail on May 13th.
The Mist Trail had been closed since the incident to facilitate Search and Rescue Operations. The trail has now reopened. Yosemite National Park Rangers will continue search efforts throughout the day. These efforts consist primarily of combing each side of the Merced River looking for the victims.
Over the years, there have been several cases of visitors going over Vernal Fall, as well as other waterfalls, such as Upper Yosemite Fall.
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