FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – A search is under way in Yosemite National Park for as many as three people who may have been swept over the 317-foot-high Vernal Fall on the Merced River in eastern California.
The path to the top of Vernal Falls, Mist Trail, a three-mile trek with a 1,000-foot rise in elevation, is one of the most popular hikes in the park.
At the top a guardrail separates visitors from the treacherous water, and signs in multiple languages warn visitors of the danger created by slippery boulders.
According to Jake Bibee, a witness to the horrific accident, the three victims ignored those warning signs and crossed the gaurdrail in order to pose for photographs in front of the huge Yosemite waterfall.
“I saw [one] man’s eyes when he went over the falls. That was devastating,”
Immediately following the incident, Yosemite park rangers closed the Mist Trail, which is normal procedure during a search and rescue operation.
Published accounts say that 13 people have died by falling over Vernal Falls since records began being kept in the 1920s.