FRESNO, Calif. (CBS13/AP) – Three Stanislaus County residents are presumed dead after plunging over Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park on Tuesday,
The visitors were identified on Wednesday as 22-year-old Hormiz David of Modesto, 27-year-old Ninos Yacoub of Turlock, and 21-year-old Ramina Badal of Manteca.
The three were at the park on an outing with a group from their church, Mar Gewargis Parish in Ceres. Badal’s cousin tells CBS Sacramento all three were active members of the church and the Assyrian community. She also says Ramina was a “great girl” with plans to become a nurse.
The Park’s search and rescue unit closed the Mist Trail leading to the fall on Tuesday afternoon while searching for the bodies. The trail was reopened Wednesday as rescuers searched the banks of the river for the bodies.
Park officials say witnesses saw the group go into the water above Vernal Fall about 25 feet from the precipice. Several people apparently warned the group to get away from the fast flowing river. Park officials say the hikers had to cross a metal guardrail designed to keep people away from the river.
Record snowfall has created spectacular waterfalls in the park, but it’s a treacherous beauty. Visitors often underestimate the force of water, and the mist from waterfalls creates slippery conditions on trails.