Vigil Held For Yosemite Hikers Swept Away By Waterfall

CERES (CBS SF) – Family and friends of a woman and two men presumed dead after they were swept over Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park gathered at St. George’s Church Wednesday to grieve.

The three college students, 21-year-old Ramina Badal of Manteca, 27-year-old Ninos Yacoub of Turlock and 22-year-old Hormiz David of Modesto, were role models who did not normally take risks, said people who knew them.

The tragic accident has shaken the tight knit Assyrian Christian community that saw so much promise in all three.

“They had a whole lot of life ahead of them,” said Gewardgis Narso, a deacon in the Mar Gewargis Parish of the Assyrian Church of the East.

Badal was a nursing student at the University of San Francisco. Yacoub was studying chemistry at California State University Stanislaus. David was studying music production at Modesto Junior College.

Authorities have not stopped searching the Merced River for their bodies.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

They were on an all day church outing Tuesday when they climbed over the guard rail at the 317-foot Vernall Fall to pose for photographs, ignoring a warning sign that tells visitors on the Mist Trail not to cross the barricade.

Their friends could only watch as Badal slipped and one of the men reached for her only to fall. The other man also tried to help the two only to be pulled into the water with them.

Witnesses immediately called 911 on cell phones, alerting park rangers who quickly closed the trail. It has since reopened.

Six people have died in water-related accidents at Yosemite this year.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Holly Quan
  • gw

    college students with NO common sense,and oh yea not a role model for me!!!!

  • Sam Mallory

    I watched the video (I am pretty sure it was these people) but it was sad to watch. First off they were stupid as it gets. Who wades in the water at the mouth of a waterfall.

    • mh


  • LoLo

    What on earth were they thinking???

  • Reality

    HAHAHAHA!!!!!! What idiots!!!!

    The only person that I “may” feel sorry for is if someone tried to help as was implied, but if that person tried to help, that almost certainly means they were on the other side of the railing as well. And even if that person did try to help and the other idiot was only 25 feet away from the precipice when they fell into the water, then none of them had a chance to begin with… thus it makes them idiots for even trying to help in a futile situation (if that even was the case).

    I’ve done that Vernal & Nevada Falls and Half Dome hike countless times. In fact, I saved a young girl’s life there (maybe 7 or 8 years old) walking down the mist trail while her ignorant parents walked ahead of her not paying proper attention to her. I even spoke up and warned her parents that they should be holding her hand and they insisted she was fine as they were busy taking pictures and walking. A short while later, the little girl slipped on the water-drenched rocks on the trail and was on her way over the edge of the trail to a certain death. I reached out, grabbed her hand and threw my body weight to the ground in the opposite direction.

    With regard to the idiots in this story, there are signs all over the place and railings. Yet these people were still SO stupid that they ignored them.


    So chalk up another one for natural selection. Our human genetic pool just got healthier as a result. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say we should be REMOVING signs instead of posting them.

    Why do we need to constantly coddle idiots?

    If we started removing warning signs and railings from places like say Niagara Falls (or in this case the falls in Yosemite) our species would IMPROVE by weeding out the idiots that would fall in and die. The intelligent people would realize there is a danger and not get close enough to fall in. Then those intelligent people would be the ones producing future generations of intelligent people while the dolts would be dead and therefore not be able to further damage our genetic “pool.”

    Thus, in places such as a waterfall, signs shouldn’t be necessary. However, if it is something that an average person wouldn’t expect, such a “normal” looking chain link fence that is electrified, then obviously that’s a different story.


    Also note that the people in this story were Christians from a church. Studies have been done in terms of religious beliefs and IQ. Atheists had the highest IQ’s, followed by agnostics, followed by people who have medium religious beliefs, followed by the devout hardcore believers coming in dead last. Thus, the more you believe, the lower your IQ. Therefore, God created his believers as the least intelligent segment of society.

    These people certainly support those claims. They live in a world of delusion where they believe in an antiquated 2K year old book that is riddled with error after error…. all the while believing it is inerrant. The Bible was written by uneducated men 2K years ago, many of whom would have believed the Earth to be flat. The facts are that a 5th grader today knows more about the world that we live in than did the uneducated people who wrote the Bible. It is ironic that people would NEVER let a 5th grader dictate the course of their life, but when it comes to the Bible, then it all of the sudden “magically” becomes OK to do so. It is absolutely mind-boggling.

    In this case, the delusion came in the form that they could walk near the precipice of the waterfall (despite railings, signs and other tourists telling them not to) and be fine.

    Perhaps if these people spent less time in church and more time in science class, then they would have understood how the snowpack affects the strength of the current, how water constantly running over the granite rocks smoothes them to be ridiculously slippery, etc, etc, etc. But hey, despite them not spending much time in science class, at least they’ll be nominated for a Darwin Award.


    • Reality

      In fact, here is one of the many actual signs on top of Vernal Falls:

      The text reads: “Danger! Swimming or Wading is Prohibited in Emerald Pool” (which is WELL behind the 25 foot mark where these imbeciles were).

      The text goes on to say, “Danger! This area closed to swimming, wading and sliding. These activities often CAUSE DEATH….. stay back from SLIPPERY ROCKS at the water’s edge.”

    • Reality

      Here is yet a different sign:

      The text reads: “Danger: Waterfall! STAY OUT OF WATER! Powerful, hidden currents will carry you over the fall. Stay back from slippery rock at the water’s edge. IF YOU GO OVER THE FALL, YOU WILL DIE.”

      How much more explicit can they be? I mean really?

    • Reality

      In this picture, you can see the railings, you can see people READING the warning sign and you can even catch a glimpse of the “island” that these idiots who fell over the falls were likely trying to access.

      I hope getting to that island, climbing over the railing, ignoring the warning signs and throwing all basic common sense out the window was worth it.

      But hey, there’s a silver lining in everything… our species just got stronger as a result and the people that died got one spectacular view on the way down… in fact, I’d say it was a “once in a lifetime” view.


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