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Swimmer Swept Over 594-Foot Nevada Fall At Yosemite National Park


Search efforts were ongoing Monday for the body of a California man swept over Nevada Fall on Saturday. NPT file photo.

A recovery operation was ongoing Monday at Yosemite National Park for a California man swept over 594-foot-high Nevada Fall.

Aleh Kalman, 19, of Sacramento, was swimming in the Merced River just upstream of the falls on Saturday when he was swept over shortly before 3 p.m., the park reported.

The man, part of a church group, was seen swimming above Nevada Fall, approximately 150 feet from the precipice, when he was swept away by the current. Witnesses reported to park officials that he was swimming back from a rock in the middle of the river when the current swept him downstream to the edge of the waterfall.

Ground teams, along with a California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter, were immediately dispatched to the location of the waterfall to begin searching for Mr. Kalman. Search efforts continued throughout the evening Saturday until fading light prevented further efforts.

On Saturday, the Merced River which feeds the waterfall, was flowing at approximately 500 cubic feet per second, which represents a very swift and powerful spring flow of water. The flow increased to 650 CFS on Sunday.

The Mist Trail, from the footbridge above Emerald Pool to the top of Nevada Fall, was temporarily closed Sunday for ground teams to continue searching the area below the waterfall.

Aiding in the search were three dog teams and approximately 20 ground search-and-rescue personnel.

Yosemite visitors are urged to exercise extreme caution around all water in the park. Although the park received only 50 percent of normal snow pack this past winter, rivers within the park continue to run at high levels this time of the year. Additionally, the water remains extremely cold and will be throughout the year.


Obviously this is very sad news but if memory serves me correctly, isn't it posted to keep out of the Merced River upstream from the Falls (both Nevada as well as Vernal)? I hope they recover his body quickly for the family's sake.

Sad. I'm just amazed that swimming upstream from a 600' waterfall is actually legal.

I've hiked up there a number of times. It boggles my mind that anyone would get in the water there this time of year, and never within 300 yds of that falls. They think they can stand in it up to their knees, but the granite is worn slick as ice.

BTW, about this time of the year, at about 3:30 in the afternoon, there is an incredible 400 foot rainbow that crosses Nevada Falls. It is best seen on the rivershore just off the trail about a hundred yards down stream from the falls. It is one of the most amazing photos that you can ever take at Yosemite. It's only there about 30 minutes as the sun continues downward.

Sad. I'm just amazed that swimming upstream from a 600' waterfall is actually legal.

It's not legal. There are posted visual signs that should be pretty obvious to a 19 year old.

Thanks YPW. I had heard on the radio somewhere that swimming was legal but discouraged (obviously). Either way, it just seems like common sense was seriously lacking. Unfortunately, this lapse in judgement ended tragically.

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