Rescuers Urge Safety After Four Drowning Deaths in Yosemite

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. - Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue crews are urging visitors to stay out of the water and on dry land.

This, after they've seen four people drown in the past month alone, and they say several more drownings have happened outside the park.

It looks serene, refreshing and often times, inviting, but the beauty that is Yosemite rivers can turn quickly into a death trap.

"People under appreciate how powerful and cold the water is," Coordinator of Swift Water Rescue Program Moose Mutlow said. 

Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue teams have seen an overwhelming number of drowning deaths in the park in the past few weeks..

"Either not knowing how to swim or getting in over their head," EMT Adrianne Ghio said.

"They come to the national park to experience an adventure or have a good time, and they want to reach out and touch the water or feel what it's like or have their photograph next to a waterfall and they have one slip and they're gone," Mutlow said.

There's been four deaths just in the past month. One person fell off a waterfall, one slipped out of their raft, another jumped off a rock, and the final person fell off a bridge into the forty degree, rapid moving currents.

"Water takes a life very, very quickly," Mutlow said.

Which makes training days possibly life-saving. Search and Rescue crews practice different tactics over and over, including the rope toss and baited swimmer.

"It keeps responders very fresh on potentially life-saving skills, and it keeps everyone aware and on point of hazards in the river," Ghio said.

But park rangers say while the rescue team will do what they can, you need to be prepared to fight on your own.

"The response time is going to be very long. You're in a national park and it can take a long time to get to you so self-sufficiency is something you have to accept before you go out," Park Ranger Alan Hageman said.

They say the best way to stay alive is to stay dry.

"We generally tell people to stay out of the water and stay on trails. It might look inviting on a hot summer day, but it can turn very deadly," Ghio said.

More information on safety tips and water activities in the park, visit https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/safety.htm.
 


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