YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (KCBS) — Yosemite National Park has recorded its first two accidental deaths of the year, as two hikers died at the park in unrelated incidents last Friday.

It’s rare for unrelated accidents to take the lives of two Yosemite visitors on the same day, but that’s what happened according to Park Ranger and spokesman Scott Gediman, who describes one of the accidents:

“Kent Butler, a 60-year-old visitor from Austin, Texas, was hiking along the Mist Trail and was on one of the rocks, which was wet at this time of year, which is normal, and stepped back on a rock and apparently fell into the Merced River,” Gediman said.

KCBS’ Melissa Culross Reports:

It is believed that Butler drowned, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Around the same time, 35-year-old James Dunbar of Berkeley fell while hiking or running along the upper Yosemite Falls trail and sustained a fatal head injury.

Gediman said these accidents serve as a tragic reminder to be careful at the park, where trails can be slippery:

“Be very careful at all times, but be very careful around all water sources within the park,” he said.

Yosemite sees an average of 12 to 15 accidental deaths every year.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (2)
  1. Skeets says:

    Caution: Hiking in Yosemite may be hazordous to your health.

  2. Brigid null Shea says:

    Kent Butler was a dear friend, a UT professor, a huge advocate for the environment and much loved and admired in Austin. His passing leaves a giant hole in our community.

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