Yosemite waterfall deaths raise issues

July 22, 2011 at 1:05 PM   |   Comments

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SAN FRANCISCO, July 22 (UPI) -- Rangers in California's Yosemite Park say they rarely punish people who stray off trails, a transgression that led three deaths this week.

Yosemite officials concluded issuing citations each time one of the park's 4 million visitors wanders from a designated path would do little to deter them, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

"Yosemite and the national parks are inherently wild places," Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said. "We do all we can do to educate visitors through the Web, our newsletters and public signs -- but ultimately people need to make their own decisions."

On Tuesday three hikers were swept over Vernal Fall as dozens of other visitors watched in horror.

The three, Ramina Badal, 21, Ninos Yacoub, 27, and Hormiz David, 22, had gone around a metal guardrail upstream of the waterfall to stand in knee-high water.

Badal slipped, setting off a chain reaction that pulled all three over the 317-foot-high waterfall.

The bodies had not been recovered.

They apparently missed or ignored warning signs featuring a stick figure tumbling over the edge of the waterfall as well as a widely available booklet advising visitors "never to swim or wade upstream of a waterfall, even if the water appears shallow or calm," the Chronicle said.

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