Missing Person’s Body Recovered After Being Swept Over Yosemite Waterfall, Search Continues for 2 Others

Yosemite National Park has recovered the body of Hormiz “Nenos” David, a 22 year old Modesto native that has been missing since July 19, 2011, after being swept over Vernal Fall. 

 
David is one of three, including Ramina Badal of Manteca and Ninos Yacoub of Turlock, that went missing as they were swept over the 317 Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park last month.
 
David was found in the Merced River, approximately 240 feet from the base of Vernal Fall by Yosemite Rangers and Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel at approximately 1:00pm yesterday, August 5, 2011.
 
Recovery operations took approximately four and one half hours to complete and required technical rigging and swift water trained personnel.
 
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. 
 
River water levels in Yosemite continue to remain higher and colder than usual for this time of the year.  Visitors are urged to exercise extreme caution when in and around waterway in the park.
 
Yosemite National Park Rangers and SAR personnel are continuing recovery efforts in the Merced River, below Vernal Fall, for any signs of Yacoub and Badal. 
 
The Mist Trail, leading to the top of Vernal Fall, will intermittently and temporarily be closed until recovery operations of Yacoub and Badal are completed. 
 
The trail remains closed until approximately noon today, August 6, 2011.
 
The search area included in the recovery effort is one of the most rugged areas of the Merced River. 
 
Yosemite Park Rangers and SAR personnel continue to exercise caution while searching along the slippery rocks and while near the high, fast moving water of the Merced River.
 
 
Families’ Petition
Recently, and just before Hormiz David’s body was recovered, a petition sponsored by the Badal, David, and Yacoub families began to be passed around alleging that not enough was being done to find their loved ones.
 
The families requested serious cooperation from Yosemite National Park, as they feel the Park has put forth minimal search efforts since the incident occurred and not allowed assistance.
 
They requested that the Park allow additional search rescue committees to help recover the bodies.
 
The families are demanding that additional resources and methods could be used to help with search efforts. They suggested using trained search dogs to recognize scents of survivors, sandbags that can be placed on top of the waterfall as they divert water and may result in a change of pressure to allow surfacing below, and the use of helicopters.
 
The petition states: At the families’ request, the state congress has stepped in to appoint California Emergency Services (CEA) to help but have not had access granted to them by the park to date.
 
Yosemite Public Affairs Officer Kari Cobb responded stating that the CEA has not made any requests.
 
Cobb said that Rangers have been searching for the missing people every day. But at the base of Vernal Fall, the portion of the Merced River is one of the most rough, dangerous parts of the river and it is currently flowing very strong.
 
“There has been some concern because we haven’t accepted any volunteer searchers,” said Cobb. “The individuals we have down searching by the river have been highly trained in doing this and volunteer search and rescue groups have not been trained in most cases. We want to avoid any further injuries or fatalities by allowing untrained individuals to go into that area.”
 
“We’re searching the river every day, we’ve brought in search dogs earlier this week,” explained Cobb. “We’ve done as much as we can while keeping our own staff and search and rescue people safe.”
 
Cobb stated that there hasn’t been a single day that there has not been Rangers searching for the missing people since they fell over the waterfall. The water is just too high and too dangerous for anyone to get down by the base of the waterfall until the water level is around 500 csf.
 
“It’s safe for us to start diving when it’s at 60 csf,” stated Cobb. “So we’ve got quite a ways to wait for the river go down.”
 
“The search continues and we really are putting as much effort and as much heart into this as we can, and we’re trying as hard as we can to find some answers and provide the family with whatever we can,” said Cobb.

To view the families’ petition, click here.

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