At approximately 2:45 p.m., Saturday, June 1, a visitor was witnessed being swept over the precipice of Nevada Fall in Yosemite National Park. Aleh Kalman, 19, from Sacramento, came to the park with a church group and was hiking the Mist Trail when the accident occurred.
Kalman was witnessed swimming above Nevada Fall, approximately 150 feet from the precipice, when he was swept away by the current. Witnesses reported to park officials that he was swimming back from a rock in the middle of the river when the current swept him downstream to the edge of the waterfall.
Ground teams, along with a California Highway Patrol helicopter, were immediately dispatched to the location of the waterfall to begin searching for Kalman. Search efforts continued throughout the evening until fading light prevented further efforts.
Yesterday afternoon, the Merced River, which feeds the 594 foot waterfall, was flowing at approximately 500 cubic feet per second (CFS), which represents a very swift and powerful spring flow of water. Currently, the river is flowing at approximately 650 CFS with water temperature in the low 50’s. Water levels and temperatures are expected to remain relatively the same throughout the week.
The Mist Trail, from the footbridge above Emerald Pool to the top of Nevada Fall, is temporarily closed at this time in order for ground teams to continue searching the area below the waterfall. Yosemite National Park Rangers will continue search efforts throughout the day. These efforts consist primarily of combing each side of the Merced River looking for the victim. Three dog teams and approximately 20 ground Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel are searching the area for any signs of Kalman.
Visitors are urged to exercise extreme caution around all water in Yosemite National Park. Although the park received only 50% of normal snow pack, rivers within the park continue to run at high levels this time of the year. Additionally, the water remains extremely cold and will be throughout the year.
No further information is available at this time. The park will issue a news release when new information becomes available.