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Chain-reaction rescue killed three at Yosemite

July 20, 2011 | 11:55 am


Several people in a hiking group at Yosemite that included three who were swept away and presumed dead had climbed over a barricade and were in the water about 25 feet from the edge of a waterfall, standing, playing and taking photographs, witnesses told Yosemite rangers.

One of the victims then slipped and fell, the second victim tried to rescue that person, and the third victim tried to save the other two, said Yosemite National Park spokesman Scott Gediman.

The victims were not related, but were friends. About a dozen people were in the hiking group and had spent an hour at the top of Vernal Falls until tragedy struck.

The presumed dead were identified Wednesday as Hormiz David, 22, of Modesto; Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock; and Ramina Badal, 21, of Modesto.

Vernal Falls is marked with warning signs and barricaded off with a metal-bar guardrail that “takes some effort” to climb over, Gediman said.

Rangers are collecting statements and photographs from witnesses to try and garner more information about what happened, Gediman said. He emphasized that more than 1,000 visitors hike to the top of the falls each day without incident, and that it is a safe sight-seeing spot.

“We feel confident that the area is signed properly and that it is safe for visitors,” he said.


3 hikers presumed dead

Interactive: Four seasons in Yosemite

Search continues for missing Yosemite hikers

-- Kate Mather

Photo: Vernal Falls in Yosemite. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.