Rescue Gone Wrong: Three Die Going Over Waterfall in Yosemite

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Rescue Gone Wrong: Three Die Going Over Waterfall in Yosemite

Vernalfall

Brandon Rittiman / Reno Public Radio

Vernal Fall is seen in the background as the Merced River surges toward Yosemite Valley in June 2011.

Three people died in Yosemite National Park after falling into a river above a large waterfall there.

On Tuesday, three friends hopped over a protective handrail at the top of Vernal fall, which is one of the most popular places to hike in the park.

One of them slipped and fell into the rushing Merced river about 20 feet from the top of the fall

That started a tragic chain reaction.

A second person made a desperate attempt at a rescue and fell in.

Then a third person tried to help and also fell in.

All three went over the 300 foot drop almost instantly, says park spokeswoman Kari Cobb.

Cobb: "There's probably nothing that could have been done- it just happened so quickly."

Search crews are looking for the bodies of two men and a woman all in their 20's, all from Central California.

The bodies may not be recovered until the river slows down in late summer or fall.

A unusually large amount of snow is making the park more dangerous than usual, with six water-related deaths so far this year.