YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (CBS SF) — The Marin County Search and Rescue Team was conducting its annual training in the right place at the right time Saturday afternoon when a 19-year-old man fell from a rock into Emerald Pool in Yosemite National Park.
The rock climber from Camarillo in Ventura County fell 15 to 20 feet and struck the right side of his head on a rock in the Merced River above Emerald Pool, but managed to cling to the rock and avoid being swept into the pool near Vernal Fall, said Marin County sheriff’s Lt. Doug Pittman, commander of the search and rescue team.
Four or five of the search and rescue team’s mountain rescue-certified members were hiking up the Mist Trail that leads to Emerald Pool when tourists informed them of the climber’s plight, Pittman said.
The team members were untrained in swift water rescue so they reported the incident to National Park Service rangers then found the man clinging to the rock as he went in and out of consciousness, Pittman said.
Two team members set up anchors on each side of river for use by the park rangers while other team members conversed with the man to keep him alert, Pittman said.
At one point the man lost his grip on the rock but fortunately was carried by the water that pushed him up onto another rock, Pittman said.
National Park Service ranger and spokeswoman Kari Cobb said the man was in an area of the river known as the Silver Apron that contains crevices.
Park rangers arrived about 40 minutes later and had to sink new anchors because the man traveled further downstream, Cobb said. They then rigged ropes and pulleys to the anchors and physically grabbed the man and lifted him out of the pool to safety, Cobb said.
The injured climber was taken in a gurney down the John Muir Trail. He suffered hypothermia in addition to the injury to his eye socket and head injury, Pittman said.
The man was taken to a local hospital, Cobb said.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)