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Officials search for boy along Yosemite river after another died

August 16, 2012 |  2:39 pm

Authorities were searching for a 6-year-old boy after he and another boy were swept down the Merced River in Yosemite National Park during a family outing Wednesday afternoon, park officials said. The 10-year-old boy was found dead.

Crews have focused their efforts on an area between the Vernal Fall footbridge and Happy Isles, a stretch of river laced with boulders more prominent this season because of low water levels.

Search-and-rescue efforts were ongoing Thursday for the 6-year-old as crews combed the banks downriver from the footbridge, a popular stop beneath the waterfall along the park's most-used Mist Trail, said park spokesman Scott Gediman.

The extended family, who were visiting the park from Southern California, began their hike at the Happy Isles Trailhead and stopped near the footbridge about 3 p.m. to cool off in the river, Gediman said. At some point, the boys were caught in the current and swept downstream.

The 10-year-old was pulled out about 150 yards downriver and, despite resuscitation efforts by another park visitor and rangers, was pronounced dead, Gediman said.

Still, Gediman said, the Merced's current remains surprisingly strong.

The 10-year-old's death marks the third drowning at the park this year, Gediman said. Last year, three people died after being swept over Vernal Fall itself.

"Horrible. Horrible. Horrible situation," Gediman said, his voice trailing off. "These situations are always difficult, but because they're boys..."


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