Death Toll Hits 14 Making it a Deadly Year for Yosemite National Park

Posted By: The Ski Channel on August 4, 2011 11:21 am

It seems as if there have been an unusually high number of deaths this year in Yosemite National Park as the death toll hits 14.   While it is hard to find the exact number of the average number of deaths per year in the park, the numbers 10-12 keep coming up as a general average.


Why are there so many this year?  It is hard to say but the Los Angeles Times was able to interview a Yosemite spokesperson Kari Cobb on a similar topic.  Cobb said, “We’ve had more visitors, and a lot of people who come to Yosemite are coming from city situations.  A lot of people who are coming to the park aren’t familiar with nature and don’t understand the implications of their actions.” 


So what seems to be a contributing factor to the rising number of deaths is the rising number of visitors.  Which means that many more people are seeking outdoor activities, which is great, but they are not aware of the dangers of the wild. 


Another factor is the rivers and waterfalls, which are larger than usual due to the huge snowfall this past winter.   Six of this year’s deaths have been related to water. 


Last month three hikers climbed over the rail at Vernal Fall and were swept of a 317-foot cliff.  These hikers were Hormiz David, 22, of Modesto; Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock; and Ramina Badal, 21, of Manteca.  On June 29 two hikers drowned in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and on May 13 Kent Butler, a UT professor died as he slipped and fell off of Mist Trail into the Merced River. 


Previously reported on the Ski Channel a woman from San Ramon fell off of Half Dome on her way down the cable ladder.  Her death was the first death on Half Dome since 2009. 


In May Jason Dunbar, age 34, died of a heart attack as he was hiking down from a waterfall.  This was shocking to many as he was with friends and family and was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle to be in particularly good shape. 


On July 19 Alena Dennison, a 16 year old died in a car crash driving through Yosemite National Park, reports Sierra Sun Times.  


In June George Penca went missing after he never returned from a hike through Upper Yosemite Falls.  On July 23 the search has been cut back, and has still not been found. 


This marks 10 people who have died, but oddly enough after much research it is impossible to find out how the other four people died in Yosemite this year.   I personally find it very strange that there is no definite record of all these occurrences, and especially weird that no reports on the four other people can be found.


Either way, the 14 people that are said to have died this year in Yosemite is more than most years and is an astonishing amount considering that it is only early August.  Hopefully hikers will take more precaution in their hiking endeavors and fallow park signs.  Even if you are an experienced hiker, or know Yosemite well, this year the rivers are larger than ever due to excess snowfall.  When hiking make sure to be with a friend and be careful.