Three visitors from Turlock, Modesto, and Manteca are presumed dead after plunging over the 371 foot Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park on July 19, 2011, at approximately 1:30pm.
Ninos Yacoub, 27 year old male, of Turlock, Hormiz David, 22 year old male, of Modesto, and Ramina Badal, 21 year old female, of Manteca, went to the park for a day trip with a group of family and friends.
The group was witnessed entering the water above Vernal Fall, approximately 25 feet from the precipice. Witnesses reported to park officials 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 Mist Trail was closed after the incident to facilitate Search and Rescue Operations but the trail was reopened by Wednesday. Yosemite National Park Rangers continue searching with efforts consisting primarily of combing each side of the Merced River looking for the victims.
Family, friends, and members of the communities have been praying for the miracle that their loved ones will be found alive.
As of Thursday morning, no bodies have been recovered from the fast sweeping river.
The park is still seeing the effects of a huge winter snowpack and a cool spring and summer. 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 of Vernal Fall.
Visitors are urged to exercise extreme caution around all water in Yosemite National Park. Park rivers and streams have been running at higher than normal levels for this time of year, and will remain high for several weeks.
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 29, 2011, and a hiker slipped and fell into the Merced River on the Mist Trail on May 13, 2011.
Over the years, there have been several cases of visitors going over Vernal Fall, as well as other waterfalls, such as Upper Yosemite Fall.
A facebook page has been created in honor of Ramina Badal, as the official Facebook profile on behalf of the Badal family.
“As all of you can imagine we have been overwhelmed with emotion the past few days. We have had an outpour of friends, relatives and the community wanting to be in touch with us. We decided to make this page to reach out to everyone who has given us support in our time of need as well as everyone who would like to simply know real information about how our family is coping.
We will periodically post our family thoughts, prayers and updates. Please respect our privacy and use only this page to communicate with us. We really urge you to leave only positive comments and thoughts on here. We will be reading comments and thoughts and we hope to gain strength by doing so.
We have faith in God that He will protect Ramina Badal, Ninos Yacoub and Nenos David as well as their families during this time.”
Please pray with us and focus on these two verses:
Matthew 18:20 – "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”