A search and rescue mission has resumed today at Yosemite National Park after as many as three people were swept over the 317-foot-high edge of Vernal Falls on Tuesday afternoon, reports KTVU
Eyewitnesses at the park made multiple emergency calls after seeing a man and woman climb over a railing to take pictures of the falls. The couple slipped on the wet rocks of the Mist Trail and into the Merced River which runs above the falls. A third man then reportedly jumped into the water after the couple. Witnesses say that the fast-moving river dumped the three victims into a rocky pool below.
Park officials began the search Tuesday afternoon but were forced to call off the 30-member operation when it became dark.
Linda Sabo and her husband, Dean, were at the top of the falls when the accident occurred. “I saw two people that were holding each other and one that was floating alone through the water,” Dean Sabo told reporters. “And the reason that I looked was because this woman was screaming, running along the edge of the water.”
Park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said that the persistent mist of water in the air makes footing dangerous in many areas of the park. At least eight people have died at Yosemite so far this year, Cobb added. In May, a hiker fell into the Merced River where his body snagged on a rock and could not be reached for hours. Two men died after being swept off a bridge near the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in June, and one man disappeared while hiking near Yosemite Falls with his church group. He is still missing.
Park rangers have closed the Mist Trail while searching for the missing tourists.
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