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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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