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Falling Rock Kills Climber On Yosemite’s El Capitan

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Yosemite's El Capitan (U.S. Justice Department)

Yosemite’s El Capitan (U.S. Justice Department)

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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (CBS/AP) – Climbing partners are mourning the death of a 28-year-old from London who was hit by a rock on El Capitan, a signature attraction in Yosemite National Park.

The National Park Service said Monday that Felix Joseph Kiernan was climbing on the East Buttress of the granite monolith about 600 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor when a rock dislodged and struck him Sunday afternoon.

Officials estimate the block of granite fell about 150 feet before striking Kiernan.

Witnesses climbing just below Kiernan and his partner saw the accident and called for help. Yosemite search and rescue teams reached the victim about two hours later.

It was the second reported major incident in the park over the weekend. Crews had been searching for a 19-year-old Sacramento man who was swept over a waterfall on Saturday.

The search is on hold until water levels subside.

Yosemite Spokesperson Kari Cobb said both El Capitan and the Nevada Fall area remain open to visitors.

“As for the waterfall, we of course have signs urging the visitors to stay out of the water. Just know that the water is extremely strong and to proceed with caution when in that area.

There have been four accidental deaths and three from natural causes at Yosemite so far this year, according to Cobb.
On average Yosemite sees 12 to 15 deaths per year.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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