You are here

Body of One of Three Victims Swept Over Vernal Fall In Yosemite National Park Found


Search-and-rescue teams have recovered the body of one of three victims who were swept over 317-foot-tall Vernal Fall to their deaths in Yosemite National Park nearly three weeks ago.

The body of Hormiz David, 22, of Modesto, California, was found about 240 feet from the base of Vernal Fall on Friday afternoon, park officials said Saturday. Recovery operations took approximately 4.5 hours to complete and required technical rigging and swift water trained personnel.

Mr. David had been missing since July 19, when he, Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock, California, and Ramina Badal, 21, of Manteca, California, were seen being swept over the waterfall.

The area where the three were swept away is signed as a dangerous area, and the group had crossed a metal guardrail placed there to keep visitors away from the fast-moving water, the park noted in a release.

River water levels in Yosemite continue to remain higher and colder than usual for this time of the year, according to park officials, who are urging visitors to use extreme caution when in and around streams and rivers in the park.

Yosemite rangers and SAR personnel are continuing recovery efforts in the Merced River below Vernal Fall for any signs of Mr. Yacoub and Ms. Badal. The Mist Trail, leading to the top of Vernal Fall, will intermittently and temporarily be closed until recovery operations of the two are completed, park officials said.


Why close the trail during recovery operations?  Why not let the public see and smell the things rangers must experience when people act foolishly?

That is an interesting idea, the crew would need to add several folks to the team to keep visitors from walking, climbing and or hiking in the middle of rigging. By closing the trail, the folks working on the recovery can work on just that activity and accomplish their work safely and swiftly.
Staging an NPS employee or two at the entrance to the trail to provide interpretation is a possibility..but not as easily done as when a park can charge a filming company for that employee's time - to do the same type of work.
In my career I had more than one visitor walk up to me to ask a question when I was in the middle of a traffic stop, or had my gun out on a felony stop.

In my career I had more than one visitor walk up to me to ask a question when I was in the middle of a traffic stop, or had my gun out on a felony stop.

  I've never actually seen an LE ranger on any kind of traffic stop or arrest - other than at a tire chain check at Yosemite.

I have seen plenty asked to take photos of tourists, and they'll usually oblige. After one group had their picture taken, I just mentioned to the LE ranger who helped them out, that they didn't realize that he was essentially a police officer. He just said it came with wearing the hat (and he was wearing the campaign hat).

I guess the most surreal thing was at Bryce Canyon NP, where a group was waiting for a guide to show up for an interpretive walk. We thought it would be a park ranger, but it eventually turned out to be an employee of a nonprofit associated with the park. The kids were waiting for their Junior Ranger booklets to be signed, and they just mobbed that white vehicle pulling into the parking lot because it said "PARK RANGER" on the side in green. Of course this was an LE ranger complete with an assault rifle in the front seat, but she took it pretty well. She said that the guide should be showing up any time, but that she wouldn't be able to sign their booklets.

Interesting exchange - it shows just how much people don't understand about the park ranger function, much of which has to do with safety. My own last ranger encounter was while hiking in Grand Canyon - I looked a bit ragged, and she asked about whether I'd been eating, drinking, and resting enough. (Yes, yes, and probably.)
Lee's idea might be handled more effectively by having a few placards posted with photos of a couple of people who died from their own behavior, accompanied by 2-4 sentences about what they did wrong. Permission from relatives would be required, but some might feel they want to help spare others their pain of losing a loved one, etc. The advantage would be that the placards would always be there, while the rescuers are going to move on to other tasks.

The idea of using placards with accident victim photos probably won't get a lot of traction in the national parks, but I have no doubt that postings of this sort could be used to good effect in some dangerous areas. The tactic certainly worked with me. Many years ago, I worked one summer as a seasonal ranger at Michigan's Dodge No. 4 State Park (on Cass Lake, near Pontiac). There I saw, nearly every day, a placard at the swimming beach that included a photo showing the propellor-mangled corpse of a swimmer who had been run over by a speedboat. The message was: "If you swim outside the roped-off swimming area, this could happen to you." I have never forgotten that placard (I could still sketch it for you pretty accurately), nor have I stopped wondering about the emotional impact of that gruesome placard on the victim's family and friends.

Bob, I think where you, Lee, and I all come together is at making the danger more real to people. Lee's point, I think, and the point of the placard you saw, was to show just how awful the consequences are. My point was to say "hey, these are real people we're talking about." About 15 years ago, I saw somebody get a severe burn on her finger at Yellowstone because she wondered how serious the signs were about the scalding water. A photo of her finger with a statement like "this is what happens to people who put their fingers in the steaming rivulets" could be awfully effective in keeping people from repeating her (idiotic) mistake.
However, I don't know where NPS would get money for this kind of thing anymore, so it's all hypothetical.

"However, I don't know where NPS would get money for this kind of thing anymore, so it's all hypothetical."  Isn't that what the Internet is for?

I remember being at the visitor center at Canyon in Yellowstone and seeing a video loop of people being gored by bison. These people probably lived, but the image still reminds me to be careful when I am taking photos. I think a placard at showing what happens when you are careless is much more affective than just a warning.

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide