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Yosemite records 17th death of the year

Aug. 25, 2011 at 12:48 PM
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MARIPOSA, Calif., Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Authorities at Yosemite National Park say a 17th person has died in what has been an unusually dangerous year at the California park.

A man who fell Monday evening off Half Dome, the park's landmark granite formation in the Sierra Nevada, has been identified as Ryan Leeder, 23, of Los Gatos, Calif., CNN reported Thursday.

Deaths in the park this year have occurred at about twice the usual rate, park officials said.

Rangers say some visitors are putting themselves in danger by hiking on treacherous trails in flip-flops, climbing over safety barriers to take pictures or swimming dangerously close to waterfalls.

In July, three hikers were swept over the powerful 317-foot Vernal Fall waterfall, and park personnel are still searching for two of the bodies.

Witnesses told park authorities the hikers had climbed over a safety rail.

"We don't station a ranger in every possible dangerous place that's out there," Kari Cobb, a park ranger, said. "People have to come here and realize that Yosemite is nature, and it is a very wild place."

Last year the park recorded more than 4 million visitors, CNN reported.

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