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1
While I have enormous sympathy for their families' loss, calling it "unthinkable" is just plain silly. It was entirely thinkable, hence the barricade.
Posted by teamcanada on July 20, 2011 at 3:08 PM · Report this
2
If it was 'unthinkable', why were there a bunch of warning signs in multiple languages posted there?
Posted by tiktok on July 20, 2011 at 3:08 PM · Report this
3
OK, I'll concede the point—it's definitely thinkable. I just can't bear to think it: the slipping, the screaming, the bouncing, the lurching, the crushing, the witnesses, the relatives, the roar of the water.

GAH! You made me think it!!
Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on July 20, 2011 at 3:14 PM · Report this
4
I agree with #1. People just feel they can do whatever they want and then when something horrible happens because they felt the rules didn't apply to them their families and others suffer needlessly. If people weren't so selfish and stupid and ignorant and actually stopped, looked, and listened once in awhile these types of tragedies would not happen. There are people starving to death in Somalia. I don't care at all about these sad, dead idiots.
Posted by xina on July 20, 2011 at 3:14 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 5
I pretty much imagine every worst case scenario in situations like this, even when there aren't any warning signs posted. Walking along a narrow trail along a cliff, I won't be able to stop myself from imagining slipping on gravel and tumbling over the edge.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm glad I'm a paranoid coward, and I'm a little mystified by people who aren't.
Posted by keshmeshi on July 20, 2011 at 3:20 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 6
Just call it evolution in action. Dumbasses.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty http://www.nra.org on July 20, 2011 at 3:24 PM · Report this
7
I don't disagree with any of what's been said about the foolishness that put them in danger, but there is something magnificent that one tried to rescue the other who tried to rescue the other. One of the things that worries me about me is that I'd probably have stood there watching the other two fall. In horror, in terrible grief, perhaps even in judgment. But it makes me sad to think I may lack the nerve, the love, the bravery, the pity to have leapt after the first two. I don't know. RIP, youngsters.
Posted by gloomy gus on July 20, 2011 at 3:24 PM · Report this
Andy_Squirrel 8
I wonder if the sign specified WHY they shouldn't climb the barrier. I feel too often the problem lies in the fact that warning signs don't say why you shouldn't go over the barrier. We live in a culture that is obsessed with "keeping you out" of every nook and cranny for fear of legal action. In reality, we should really have signs that explain the danger, stress that there is a high likelihood you will get hurt and then have some "proceed at your own risk" junk at the bottom. People will always jump fences to gain access to forbidden places but at the very least warning them of the specific dangers and suggesting wearing certain pieces of safety equipment would do wonders to save lives.
Posted by Andy_Squirrel on July 20, 2011 at 3:25 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 9
I'm with everyone else who's commented so far. It is horrible that they died, but... They don't put these barricades up to scold you and ruin your fun, and people who were much more fit and athletic than you have been killed by these hazards. You really are asking for trouble when you ignore warning signs and barricades.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 20, 2011 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 10
Well, I'm not with Andy Squirrel, but he hadn't commented yet when I was writing mine up.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 20, 2011 at 3:28 PM · Report this
11
Also, the CBC's account of the story includes an interview with an eyewitness who saw a member of the group forcibly holding a screaming, terrified young girl right next to the water before the incident occurred. Some people really shouldn't go out in the woods.
Posted by teamcanada on July 20, 2011 at 3:29 PM · Report this
Irena 12
It's terrible. But I don't see the point in calling them stupid and ignorant. Ever driven over the speed limit with two friends in the car? There are signs warning against that, too.
Posted by Irena on July 20, 2011 at 3:30 PM · Report this
13
Definite nominees for the 2011 Darwin Award
Posted by pirate68 on July 20, 2011 at 3:30 PM · Report this
14
College kids die breaking the rules to have fun. I would play a tiny violin, but I just really don't care.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on July 20, 2011 at 3:30 PM · Report this
balderdash 15
I'm not saying it wasn't dumb, and I'm certainly not saying it isn't tragic and awful for the survivors.

But I am saying, you know... we live in a society that's full of dire warnings about things that really aren't that dangerous, or, if they are, have a very slim chance of actually occurring. A lot of younger people - anyone under 40, really - have grown up in a world where the only way to have any kind of fun at all was to ignore one or more warnings of grave danger, be it physical or spiritual. There are warnings of deadly consequences on cigarettes and booze, and while those may be bad for you in the long run, lighting one up is not going to send you tumbling hundreds of feet onto jagged unyielding rocks.

So have we not maybe set people up for this? I kinda feel like we've badly devalued warnings so that they're not adequate when they're really, actually necessary.
Posted by balderdash http://introverse.blogspot.com on July 20, 2011 at 3:34 PM · Report this
16
@8, The sign is very explicit about why and the description is fairly gruesome. Basically it says currents will take you over the edge and you will fall to your death. There is a drawing of a person being swept to their death on the sign.

The Emerald Pool is also off limits, although a lot of people seem to think it is a perfectly good "swimming hole" despite a fairly strong current and a big waterfall a few hundred feet away.
Posted by Reg on July 20, 2011 at 3:34 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 17
@ 12, I usually hold your comments in high esteem. So I'm going to be as polite as I can be.

Do you believe that the speed limit is comparable to this?

I should ask exactly how much over the limit you were thinking, too. And what the driving conditions were like.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 20, 2011 at 3:36 PM · Report this
rob! 18
@7, it is precisely that level of concern, regard, altruism, what-have-you that would have propelled you into the water if suddenly faced with the actual event. And it is the same faculty, combined with wisdom, that would have kept you or anyone you love from getting into that situation in the first place, so don't torture yourself overmuch.

I'm a terrible swimmer (though a reasonably good floater), so I wouldn't have been in over my ankles in a mountain stream to begin with.
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on July 20, 2011 at 3:39 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 19
you may also be surprised to learn that you should not tease tigers until they are so enraged they escape their enclosures. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francis…
Posted by Max Solomon on July 20, 2011 at 3:42 PM · Report this
Westlake, son! 20
Did you guys see this video of a family being swept over a waterfall in India? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qps7tG9rn…
Posted by Westlake, son! on July 20, 2011 at 3:47 PM · Report this
care bear 21
We were taught in elementary school that if someone falls through the ice you should not try to rescue them because there's a good chance that you'll fall through the ice too. Same deal here. I don't know if I'd be composed enough to think of that if I were in this situation but the moral of the story is don't do something dumb to save your dead friend who's just done something dumb.
Posted by care bear on July 20, 2011 at 3:48 PM · Report this
onion 22
it's fairly obvious given what happened that this thread was going to be a total dog pile calling for Darwin awards and such. it was sort of a stupid post, and cruel. because now here's this forum for a bunch of people to call the very dead people very stupid people. i'm sure the families would be happy to know.
they're dead. no need to rub it in.
Posted by onion on July 20, 2011 at 3:50 PM · Report this
Irena 23
@17, oh, Matt, don't get snippy with me. My first reaction was, god, what fools. But then I thought about it a bit.

I've done some dangerous things in water and on mountains in my youth. Nothing this dangerous, for sure. But I'd like to think that if I'd died doing them, I wouldn't have some jerk on a blog saying "I don't care at all about that sad, dead idiot".

And yeah, speeding is risky. People die doing it all the time. Which is to say, I do think they're comparable; that's why I compared them.

I'm a bit weirded out by all the anger on this thread. They're dead, guys. No need to spit on their graves.
Posted by Irena on July 20, 2011 at 3:52 PM · Report this
Irena 24
And Matt, or whoever, to save you time:

"You're a fucking idiot, Irena".

You're welcome.
Posted by Irena on July 20, 2011 at 3:56 PM · Report this
Vince 25
My condolences to their families. It's always sad when a young person dies needlessly. There are many dangerous places in California when sight seeing. Careful out there, people.
Posted by Vince on July 20, 2011 at 4:01 PM · Report this
26
@23 - the anger is a defense mechanism. it makes people feel safer and more secure to be angry and contemptuous of other peoples' foolish mistakes. calling other people foolish and silly for bad judgement makes it easier for one to believe that one is incapable of bad judgement oneself.

for some reason anger feels better than sadness. but in reality, anger is much more destructive.
Posted by pffft on July 20, 2011 at 4:02 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 27
@ 23, I guess you're so ticked that being polite is taken as being snippy? Okay then.

You mentioned "signs". Well, there's going a couple miles faster, then there's going ten miles faster, then there's doing what Ryan Dunn did a few weeks ago. Maybe what he did was comparable. Most incidents of speeding are not.
Posted by Matt from Denver on July 20, 2011 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 28
have you been to Mt. Rainier and seen the gapers heading up to Camp Muir in tennis shoes and flip flops? Or Yellowstone, where they hop out of their cars to pose next to bison and moose?

Hormiz David, 22, of Modesto; Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock; and Ramina Badal, 21, of Modesto were most likely not experienced hikers.
Posted by Max Solomon on July 20, 2011 at 4:11 PM · Report this
29
the average intelligence of the human race is a little higher today...
Posted by tragic. just tragic.... on July 20, 2011 at 4:13 PM · Report this
30
As someone who has been a professional signwriter, I am actually deeply interested in the debate over the signage here. It's my opinion that there's no such thing as a completely effective sign in these situations. Make it too vague, and people will rightly say that they should have been better informed of the (sometimes not immediately apparent) danger. Make it very graphic, and some people will take it as a challenge. My favourite sign for danger was in a bay on Kauai'i. It was a charming handmade running death tally (well over 50).
Posted by teamcanada on July 20, 2011 at 4:17 PM · Report this
31
Meanwhile in further news of young people making really bad choices...

http://www.kpho.com/story/15113499/man-f…
Posted by Senor Guy on July 20, 2011 at 4:18 PM · Report this
Irena 32
@20: Holy shit!
Posted by Irena on July 20, 2011 at 4:18 PM · Report this
33
There's an eyewitness account here.
Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on July 20, 2011 at 4:20 PM · Report this
pissy mcslogbot 34
getting a photo of a warning sign about dangerous things, like at sliding cliffs "woah, that silhoutte dude is really fucked" usually is good enough for me, then I often slink back in the knowledge that there probably was a real dude that sign was depicting.
It may be wimpy but imo that sucks less than being crashed against the rocks below.
Posted by pissy mcslogbot on July 20, 2011 at 4:22 PM · Report this
Zebes 35
I had something here about the need for all the scorn, but 23 and 26 have handled that already, so...

It's too bad. I hope their families take care. I hope they don't end up putting in some really ugly, overkill barrier to replace the old one.
Posted by Zebes http://www.badrap.org/rescue/index.html on July 20, 2011 at 4:22 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 36
@30: i counted over 80 on that sign in march. it wasn't hard to see why.
Posted by Max Solomon on July 20, 2011 at 4:29 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 37
I'm obviously in the minority, here, but I have no problem w/ any of this. I'm not happy that these people died. I'm sure they were fine folks & deserved to have as much life as they wanted. But we all are going to die. And there's a lot to be said for going out on top, in the prime of youth, experiencing intense, passionate emotion. Moving to save your friends, w/ feelings of altruism, sacrifice, honor.... I'm not going to denigrate these folks who chose (deliberately or not) that kind of death.

If you're going to rag on people's choices of how they die, I have far less respect for those who go the OD route.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on July 20, 2011 at 4:31 PM · Report this
38
That is very, very sad, but it also points out some fundamental flaws in thinking processes among certain individuals.

Back when Howard Dean was running for the presidency, he used to tell the tale of his brother who died in Southeast Asia. I assumed from his speeches, his brother was either in the military or some aid group, but it turned out he decided to go hiking in the area where there were at least five different groups warring with one another, and where any outsider is frequently shot on sight, especially Americans.

His brother disappeared there, never to be found. There are some really stupid actions people perform, and hearing about the same idiocy again, and again and again over the years tends to inure one to any real sympathy for the victims.

No doubt they were good and decent young people, but getting that close to any waterfall, given the outgoing hydrologic pressure normally existing in that area, was truly foolhardy.
Posted by sgt_doom on July 20, 2011 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Irena 39
@38, I don't think anyone's arguing that what they did wasn't foolhardy, sgt doom. But reading that eyewitness account, after my initial reaction of "you idiots!", my heart just breaks for them.

I don't know why I keep coming back to this thread -- I'm going to have nightmares about this! Moving on...
Posted by Irena on July 20, 2011 at 4:46 PM · Report this
40
Thanks for that, rob! I hope you're right about that.
Posted by gloomy gus on July 20, 2011 at 4:47 PM · Report this
eclexia 41
Nothing is MORE IMPORTANT to gen-Y that getting goofy pictures of themselves posted.

You see it clearly in the Vancouver riot footage. Car burning? Quick, run in and flip a hand-sign at your friend holding the phone!

-------------------
One man, he said, was posing near the waterfall with a screaming young girl in his arms while a teenage girl snapped photographs.

“People became unglued on this guy,” Bibee said. “They said, you know what man, get your ass back over here.”
Posted by eclexia on July 20, 2011 at 4:49 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 42

This would be a great way to reduce the population of obnoxious 20 year olds in Seattle.

Do they have something like this near Mt. Rainier?

Maybe a "Youth Trip" could be organized...

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on July 20, 2011 at 4:52 PM · Report this
43
@41
Growing up in the South, this reminds me of an old joke.

"What are a rednecks last words?

Hey Ya'll, Watch This!"
Posted by Senor Guy on July 20, 2011 at 4:53 PM · Report this
44
@42: I like the "OMG Im txtn @60mph lolz!" Destruction Derby idea. Let's widen the age range so addle-pated twits who are old enough to know better can participate.
Posted by my txts are, like, more important than your life? on July 20, 2011 at 5:04 PM · Report this
pissy mcslogbot 45
@42: ahhh, but if there were only a way to get rid of the worthless basement dwelling trolls from Kent...

egads, and what the fuck?

you really are a crusty shitstain of a "person"
Posted by pissy mcslogbot on July 20, 2011 at 5:09 PM · Report this
46
has anybody else stood at the top of a waterfall and had a strong urge to jump? i had that at mooney falls in havasu canyon...really fucked with me.
Posted by taint on July 20, 2011 at 5:14 PM · Report this
47
Okay, now look at this video of Vernal Falls taken last month. The force and power of this water are indisputable. The 300' foot drop is pretty obvious since you hike up from down below the falls. How these folks could think for a moment that they could play in this water? Get the view of the scene from about minute 1:00. The warning sign appears around 2:18.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQpHGO9CQ…
Posted by No Offense on July 20, 2011 at 5:24 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 48
Sure thing, taint. I'll bet a lot of people have. For me it was Niagara Falls. What a way to go.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty http://www.nra.org on July 20, 2011 at 5:24 PM · Report this
49
15 years ago when I took my children camping and hiking at Yellowstone Park I purchased the book Death in Yellowstone and on the drive there read them horrific stories of people being scalded to death, mauled by animals they had foolishly approached, and falling off well marked cliffs. To me the worst were the deaths that occurred from somebody falling onto someone else (from 50 or 60 feet) or when some kid threw a rock off a cliff and hit somebody below.
Posted by MikeB on July 20, 2011 at 5:34 PM · Report this
Looking For a Better Read 50
To all the self righteousness on this thread . . . .

There but for the grace of God (or whatever) go every last one of us. And each of you knows it to be true.
Posted by Looking For a Better Read on July 20, 2011 at 6:20 PM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 51
@47 - wait, is that the barrier they climbed over? The one with all those people there? Really? That is not at all what I pictured in my head. I was picturing something that didn't actually look all that risky, but was deceptively dangerous. I actually had quite a bit of sympathy for them, given that I've done a fair amount of "risky" things in the wilderness that could have gone badly. But, that video makes me want to pile on the "they're idiots" bandwagon... there is no way in hell I would climb over that. Jesus.
Posted by Julie in Eugene on July 20, 2011 at 7:36 PM · Report this
52
Frizzelle, WTF? You just told all your readers that Emerald Pool is safe and there's some sort of stopper for people who are swimming there and the waterfall. I just spent 20 minutes looking for such a barricade and it doesn't exist. Those three could have just as easily started from Emerald Pool and gone over the falls (as @16 says, someone did in 2005). Can you fix your post to clarify this? There are a lot of stupid people in the world, and you probably just sent a few to their deaths.
Posted by idaho on July 20, 2011 at 7:37 PM · Report this
53
A stopper *between* the pool and the waterfall, and there isn't.
Posted by idaho on July 20, 2011 at 7:38 PM · Report this
54
@23: Hey Irene, when I'm passing someone on a two-lane road, I need to speed to get around them. That does not carry nearly the same amount of risk as swimming in a mountain stream right next to a waterfall and signs telling people not to.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on July 20, 2011 at 7:45 PM · Report this
55
@42: There is always that group of hikers who decides to head out right after a storm warning, or in the middle of the off-season. Patience.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on July 20, 2011 at 7:51 PM · Report this
pissy mcslogbot 56
@51: flow levels were possibly a bit lower than that(but probably by not much) and they felt safe enough to go out on the rocks. Even though going out there at any time would most likely be courting death.
Posted by pissy mcslogbot on July 20, 2011 at 7:52 PM · Report this
pissy mcslogbot 57
@55: I don't mind that they do that, but that they also put their potential rescuers @ risk just shows how selfish and misguided they really are...
Posted by pissy mcslogbot on July 20, 2011 at 8:00 PM · Report this
Irena 58
@54: I didn't say it carried the same amount of risk. My point was that people take stupid risks, especially when they're young, and it seems disingenuous to pretend there are idiots who deserve death, and then there are the rest of us. If you never drove 15-20 miles over the speed limit at any point when you were young, congratulations. Most of us did.

See @26.
Posted by Irena on July 20, 2011 at 8:36 PM · Report this
59
The thing that gets me is, these people weren't *that* young. The 22 year old perhaps could have the young and foolish card played posthumously, but 24 years old is pushing the upper limit of that, and 27 is well beyond it. Tragic, yes indeed.

I read about some college students working in Yellowstone who wandered off for late night hot potting, soaking in some of the pools that aren't scaldingly hot (against the rules, but something that most of the summer workers seem to do anyway). Disoriented in the dark, they jumped together over what they thought was a stream, turned out to be the edge of one of the hottest pools in the area, all 3 died. Sadly, this is not that uncommon. We live in a culture of I know the rules, but they don't apply to me. That applies to speeding, venturing off the marked trail, getting a little closer to the edge to see what maybe no one else has ever seen--it's our mindset. I will freely admit to being just as guilty as anyone else: I drive too fast daily, and have gone past the signs that say no further.

However, the attitude of this is what you get when you break the rules is just callous. There was no ill will here on the part of these young people. We shouldn't bring ill will into the equation.
Posted by catballou on July 20, 2011 at 9:24 PM · Report this
60
it was sad and beautiful that the couple held on to each other as they went over ... apparently the look on the solo guy's face as the water took him to the edge was heartbreaking. yes, they were stupid, and they got their just desserts, but it's effing sad as hell. when i first read this story i had a visceral reaction and had to force myself to think away.
Posted by Second Circle of Hello on July 20, 2011 at 9:56 PM · Report this
61
@51 The story is not clear yet on where they crossed the barrier. I've been reading California news sites all day trying to get more information. That video I posted is one month old, and the stream flow has probably lessened. But we are experiencing a very heavy snowpack and late melt with heavy runoff this year. Two hikers were washed off a bridge in the Sierras a few weeks ago.

Here's the sign that's posted showing the danger zones. File:Emerald_poolwarningsign.JPG">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Emeral… The Emerald Pool is a real attraction during calmer, drier times of the season. But here's a video showing the flow into this pool posted a year ago: http://youtu.be/eEHT93UL-R0 and then this was posted today: http://youtu.be/tjqOCUz3rZE

See the difference? Still quite a lot of water running through--more than enough to knock you down and carry you along downstream and over the falls--especially if the rocks were slippery.
Posted by No Offense on July 20, 2011 at 10:04 PM · Report this
62
I feel sad and freaked out, hearing more details about this.
I don't like heights, and strong moving water completely unnerves me.

I'm really sad for these kids.
Horrible way to go.
Posted by Can we stop talking about this now?? on July 20, 2011 at 10:57 PM · Report this
63
@20 Fuuuuck. I did not need to see that. For some reason I had to watch it a second time, hoping this time they'd make it to shore... From the text accompanying the video, three of five died. RIP

@47 Thanks for sharing that video. It puts the falls into perspective for someone like me who had no idea what they look like. I had imagined a bigger fence, but I had also imagined the water not being such an obvious death trap- How anyone could think its a good idea to cross is beyond me. And yeah, I held out hope when reading the story that maybe some of them might have survived and are somewhere downstream... but seeing those jagged rocks below, I now know that possibility is next to zero.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on July 21, 2011 at 12:14 AM · Report this
64
Upon further review, the falls are just over 31 stories high. Yup, they're all dead.
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on July 21, 2011 at 12:52 AM · Report this
65
Okay. This just in with the morning news. Per the eyewitnesses they climbed the railing just 25' from the drop. Unbelieveable. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg…
Sounds like they were horsing around a bit at the brink.
Posted by No Offense on July 21, 2011 at 7:00 AM · Report this
66
@59 - I assumed this was a group of rowdy college kids, but in fact it was a church outing led by a priest. I would hope the priest would express remorse for his bad judgement in accompanying them in swimming in the Emerald Pool. Yikes. I've definitely gone swimming in clearly marked "no swimming" areas; I'm definitely going to rethink that in the future.
Posted by alliezed on July 21, 2011 at 7:24 AM · Report this
GlamB0t 67
These young adults died tragically, but kudos for them to have the balls to just jump in and rescue one another. I don't think it was wise, but if I saw a loved one struggling in the water my first thought would be: "JUMP IN AND SAVE THEM!" Of course my second thought would immediately be "No, you'll drowned too!" Some people just go on instinct in adverse situations.

One point about the story that is the MOST tragic.....if it were me being swept away and I looked up to see people standing around praying instead of running around looking for a ranger, calling 911, or signaling The Goddamn Batman, my last words would be "I'll see you assholes in hell!"
Posted by GlamB0t on July 21, 2011 at 8:27 AM · Report this
lark 68
RIP the three young hikers.

@30 has a point. It seems what they did was unequivocally foolish. I initially thought that a barrier with graphic warnings should prevent that. Evidently, it doesn't work. The placing of a modest barrier, one that people might have a tendency to walk by vs. noticing a more ostentatious one, one that people might say is a dare and proceed to breech the barrier apparently doesn't make too much of a difference. It certainly doesn't for the families of the deceased. My point is using psychology to see what works the best at preventing these horrors may be still futile. Though, I suppose there may be other ways at diminishing the number of accidents. Whatever the case, good judgment needs to exercised at all times by the hikers. I've been to Yosemite and I've tread carefully. At the end of the day, it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't proposition for the National Park Service. The most sophisticated signage didn't prevent this tragedy.

We must know our limitations.
Posted by lark on July 21, 2011 at 8:57 AM · Report this
69
Actually totally thinkable. It's of course sad when anyone dies, but the flip side of that is WTF did you expect? I love posting the obvious on blogs.
Posted by whomever whilst have me on July 21, 2011 at 9:15 AM · Report this
70
59

The attitude of 'this is what you get when you break the rules' is NOT callous.
It is a cold hard fact of life.
Engage in dangerous irresponsible behavior and folks get hurt.
sometimes innocent folks.....
Posted by they call me MR AIDS..... on July 21, 2011 at 10:10 AM · Report this
71
@61 That link to the warning sign was garbled for some reason. Just noticed that. Here's a better link: File:Emerald_poolwarningsign.JPG">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Emeral…
The railing is visible in the lower left. According to the article cited above, they climbed the railing 25' from that lower corner.

Here is a reader's comment from a SF Chronicle article this morning.

"I've been to the top of Vernal many times, including in my teens and early 20s. Even at that age, when you feel immortal, I KNOW that standing at that railing fills you with awe and fear at the river's might and the sheerness of the drop. You see the water hurling itself over the edge, and instinctively know in your bones, Wow, if that were me, that's five seconds to death. I just don't understand what would possess a person to think s/he could safely hop the railing and wade right upstream of the falls. Even if there were no guardrail, and no bystanders yelling at you to stop (and in this case there were both), you would have to lack fundamental common sense to do such a thing.

Those kids didn't stop to register or respect the power of nature. They paid with their lives... and they also shattered their families' lives. Whatever you think of them, feel for their families."

Posted by No Offense on July 21, 2011 at 10:23 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 72
59, I've been to that area. It's a back country area, which really just means you can't see it from the road, but it's only about 100 yards over a small hill. The springs are literally boiling hot.( Water boils at 199 degrees at that altitude.) The springs runoff into the Firehole river, which is normally about 55 degrees even at the height of summer, but the hot springs warm it up to about 80 in that area. There's also a small grassy island that divides the river, and at some point in the distant past, someone lined up rocks to block some of the river water from the side closest to the hot springs. You can make it the water warmer or cooler by moving some of the rocks. It's about the same temp as a hot tub. It's not against the rules to swim there, but you do have to mind the hot springs. I was there for several hours, and didn't see another person.

The kids stayed until after dark, and it was a moonless night. Dark in Yellowstone means you cannot see your hand in front of your face. None of the five brought a flashlight. Thinking they were jumping over the runoff of the hot spring, three of the party (two guys and a girl actually jumped in the spring itself. Only the girl died; the two guys actually tried to sue the National Park Service.

The park service makes very clear is that Yellowstone is a wild and dangerous place. Yet people act like they are at Disneyland. There's a good book called Death in Yellowstone, which chronicles some of the dumb things people do, like one guy who dove head first into a boiling hot spring trying to save a dog. People begged him not to go in, but he yelled "Like hell I won't!" Both he and the Dog died.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore http://www.wishbookweb.com/ on July 21, 2011 at 10:25 AM · Report this
73
Wikipedia link keeps breaking. It worked in the preview. Oh well... Maybe you can get if from the main article. If not, sorry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerald_Poo…
Posted by No Offense on July 21, 2011 at 10:27 AM · Report this
74
I'm not sure "victim" is the right word here. This is a terrible thing and all, but these people made autonomous choices and were in no way victimized.
Posted by Atumornamedmarla on July 21, 2011 at 11:07 AM · Report this
75
You know, when people die a terrifying death and their families are devastated, I think they've paid the price for any foolishness. No need to be cruel.
Posted by Yeek on July 21, 2011 at 12:01 PM · Report this
Sketch 76
Reminds me of the story from a few years back when three teens taunted a tiger at the San Francisco zoo, dangling their legs into her enclosure, and the tiger did what tigers do when pissed off.

Humans are puny and should not fuck with forces mightier than themselves. We managed to take over the planet due to intelligent tool use, not our prowess as a species.

So, while I feel horrible for the families in both cases, I have very little sympathy for the victims. (Felt much worse for the tiger who ended up being put to sleep for acting like a tiger. I understand why they had to do it once she'd tasted human blood, but the whole debacle wasn't her fault.)

These three young men were old enough to know better, even without the warning sign. They thought they were cleverer than the people who run the park, they thought they were stronger than the current... Well, they were wrong.
Posted by Sketch on July 21, 2011 at 2:03 PM · Report this
77
@52 -- I gotta admit it's possible I'm thinking of a different waterfall/swimming hole at Yosemite. I haven't been there since the early 1990s. In my memory there was a barrier between where you could swim and where the water picked up speed, leading eventually to the waterfall, but maybe that's not the barrier in question here. That barrier depicted is rather spindly.
Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on July 21, 2011 at 3:44 PM · Report this
MK1 78
At least it was a quick death. Unfortunately, the families of the victims and the hikers who witnessed their deaths will live with this for the rest of their lives.

It's shocking how little people seem to understand about the power of currents. I was walking along the waterfront in Leavenworth a couple days ago and multiple times I saw tourists playing fetch with their dogs in the Wenatchee river, which is running very high and fast right now. It was terrifying watching them struggle against the current while the perplexed owners just called for their dogs louder. I wonder how many dogs disappear in that river every summer due to careless owners.
Posted by MK1 on July 21, 2011 at 8:57 PM · Report this
79
@ 76 - I hear you. Felt the same way about the 'tiger kids,' mostly because all the evidence (see the wikipedia article on this) pointed to a deliberate attempt on their part to inflict misery on the animal. She then proceeded to kill one of them and was finishing off the other two when shot and killed. The survivors defied cooperation with the police and just generally continued to be scumbags.

The waterfall incident seems a little different to me. I don't think these young people were trying to do something spiteful or inflict pain on another living thing. They certainly were reckless and took some dumb chances and ended up dying for it. But it doesn't look like cruelty played a role, and that allows me to feel real sympathy for their suffering and that of their families. It costs me nothing to feel bad for them.
Posted by Skek on July 22, 2011 at 3:33 AM · Report this
80
people -- ESPECIALLY young people -- who exhibit bad judgment should be treated with utter contempt because bad judgement is morally wrong.
Posted by pffft on July 22, 2011 at 10:17 AM · Report this
STJA 81
@78 - THAT really chaps my hide. Innocent animals, sent to drown by their idiot owners.
Posted by STJA on July 22, 2011 at 11:52 AM · Report this
82
I know people need to feel like they have life by the balls and have it all figured out. And that only stupid people have things like this happen to them. But I just want to remind you that statistics are not on your side. Chances are you, or your kids, will have an ironic death.

Chances are sound that a healthy percentage of the people gloating over this tragedy will one day have their words come back to haunt them.

But not me. I'm a genius. And immortal.
Posted by tkc on July 22, 2011 at 2:20 PM · Report this
83
@47 I can't believe THAT was the barrier that they climbed over. That's not what I was picturing at all! I was super sympathetic and was a little irritated at some of the comments here but my sympathy just waned quite a bit. That's not the equivalent of driving your 20 mph over the speed limit, it's the equivalent of driving 100 mph over the speed limit after you finished drinking a bottle of whisky or playing 5 chamber russian roulette. It totally sucks that they died but fucking christ people, you've got to show some common sense! There's very few things I can think of that would be less fool hardy than hopping that barrier and getting in the water.
Posted by bassplayerguy on July 22, 2011 at 7:44 PM · Report this
84
@ 15 Couldn't agree more! Fear-mongers and media hype make it seem like everything is going to kill you: your tap water, the sun, your vitamins, your hair products, your soap, your shampoo, your cell phone, your commute, your friends, your boyfriend, your priest. We've become a society of hand-wringing losers, afraid of every stupid statistically unlikely story on the news.

I recently saw a news story that sitting too much during the day will possibly cause a deadly blood clot over time. It's like- yeah...um I know that I'm gonna die someday-ok? So now you're telling me that if it's not the cigs I smoked in my 20's it might be just you know....sitting. for too long. on a daily basis. riiiiiiiight.

As amped up as people are about every stupid fucking thing that has a less than .00002% chance it might kill you- it's no wonder that these kids today are conditioned not to recognize serious danger when they see it. Growing up in a police-state nanny society where we warn them about things that most likely never happen and then try to control every move they make- these kids learn to tune out alarmist warnings, so they don't know when the warning is real or fake. Nanny state warned them that sitting too long and tap water would kill them, so when they see real danger warnings, they have no idea what it means. All that crying wolf from the government over bullshit that almost never happens has made them unable to tell the difference between real or fake dangers.

Posted by kids can't differentiate anymore on July 23, 2011 at 6:09 AM · Report this
Arsfrisco 85
@30 - It's been years, so my memory may be faulty, but I recall the sign saying "PEOPLE HAVE FALLEN TO THEIR DEATH HERE." According to my sister (the college professor) human reasoning ability does not become mature till the mid-20's. Which is why crime and car crashes are disproportionately high for people in their early 20's. A 21-year-old may read a sign and comprehend its meaning but not make the connection that "this applies to me" because that circuit in the brain has not matured.
Posted by Arsfrisco on July 23, 2011 at 3:30 PM · Report this
86
+1 to Irena @23. It's way too easy for all the learned authorities of blog comment sections to get all smug; your tsk-tsking is mostly to make you feel better about yourself and engage in a bit of mental reassurance that you're not the sort of moron _that_ would happen to. The truth is that plenty, possibly even most, of you have done something similarly stupid and dangerous in your lifetime, and were just luckier.
Posted by Morosoph on July 23, 2011 at 8:11 PM · Report this

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