Family of man presumed dead in Yosemite fall gathers in prayer
A relative of one of three people presumed dead after going over Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park described him as a loving and faithful person.
Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock, Hormiz David, 22, of Modesto and Ramina Badal, 21, of Manteca were on a day trip to Yosemite National Park with a church group friends and family Tuesday afternoon when they climbed over a metal guardrail at the top of Vernal Falls near Curry Village in Yosemite Valley, park officials said.
Jennifer Yacoub, the sister-in-law of Ninos Yacoub, said the devout family was gathered together in prayer in Turlock.
"He’s a wonderful guy, loving, supportive of his family, very faithful and extremely helpful," she said, noting that the family are Assyrians who emigrated from the Middle East.
Jennifer Yacoub said her brother-in-law was deeply involved in his church. She did not know the others who were swept over the falls with him.
"All we're asking for is for people to pray ... the power of prayer, the power of prayer," she said, her voice exhausted.
Sweeny Lelham, who puts together radio programs for the Assyrian American Club of Turlock, said the Assyrian community was gathering Wednesday at churches in Turlock, Modeso and Ceres to pray for those who fell over the falls and their families.
"They are praying and hoping that news of these deaths is incorrect and that they will be brought home safely," said Lelham, who said he did not know the victims.
Witnesses told rangers that several people urged the group to get out of the cold, fast-moving water, but the three were swept over the 317-foot falls.
A search-and-rescue effort lasted until Wednesday morning. Park officials said teams would continue to scour the Merced River for the victims.
The trail leading up to the falls, the Mist Trail, was reopened after it was closed during the initial search.
There have been six water-related deaths in Yosemite this year, including the latest incident, park officials said.
Because of a larger-than-normal snowpack this winter, rivers and streams in Yosemite and Central California have been especially dangerous in recent months.
-- Lee Romney and Kate Mather
Photo: Visitors at Yosemite National Park hike the Mist Trail leading to the top of Vernal Falls. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times