Two young boys drown in Merced at Yosemite

Vernal Fall footbridge

Yesterday afternoon, two young Southern California boys on a vacation with their family drowned after they slipped into the cold Merced River near the Vernal Fall Footbridge. Even though water levels are low in August, deep holes and caves can trap a body. The boys were playing in the water and slipped on the smooth surface of the rocks. They were sent downstream by the current. One boy was pulled out by bystanders and given CPR but not be revived. The body of the younger boy has not been found.

The footbridge leads to the Mist Trail for access to Vernal and Nevada Fall and the John Muir Trail. It is a popular easy day hike, less than an hour from the Valley. The trail is paved and there is a water fountain and toilet at the bridge.

The family began their hike at the Happy Isle Trailhead and stopped at the footbridge. Access to the river is easy, but the banks can be slippery. The trail remains open while the search for the younger boy continues. Be prepared for some disruption as recovery crews do their work. Often bodies are not found for months in this stretch of the Merced.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.” – John Muir

MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch –

One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome


About Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch

Mr Half Dome. Has written the only half dome hiking guide, One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome. Has hiked it 31 times to day. Lives in San Jose, CA Available for presentations. Carpe Diem Experience, LLC
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6 Responses to Two young boys drown in Merced at Yosemite

  1. Sönke says:

    Very sad and tragic news. 🙁 A harsh reminder that Yosemite is not a playground.

  2. Denise Connors says:

    I’m so sorry!!! I didn’t realize this was going to come up as a post to these young boys. I thought it would be a separate blog. Heart felt thoughts to the family of these kids

    • It was a tragic day. We went all summer with no fatalities on the trail. It’s so tempting to go in by the bridge but the banks are slippery and the river has deep holes and the rocks are very slick. Condolences.

  3. Denise Connors says:

    Hi Rick,
    WE MADE IT (almost)
    We won our lottery and hiked to Half Dome Wednesday August 15. After the grueling 8 miles and 6+ hours it took us to get there we were met with thunder heads!! Needless to say we did not take the chance. Although very disappointed we did get some beautiful pictures from sub dome and hung out there for a bit. The hike itself was a definite muscle twister and we will both be hobbling around for a view days, but the views we saw form sub dome were worth the pain!! Thanks for all of the info. PS, we were coming down when the two young boys drowned, we were actually diverted from the mist trail via the horse trail back to happy isle because of search and rescue. I’m sorry for their family.

    Mike & Denise Connors
    From your REI Brentwood speech

    • Denise,

      You made a correct decision by not going up with Thunderbumpers in the area. Did the Ranger advise you? Lightning can travel 7-10 miles from its source so best not to risk it even if it’s not raining. But darn – that’s August weather! Now that you have seen the bulk of the hike, you know what to expect for your 2013 hike. It will be easier next time. Keep hiking to retain your fitness level. Remember, you have to ring the bell at the top to get credit!


    • Sönke says:


      Thumbs up for your decision. You got my full respect. I know how hard it is to turn around with a goal in sight. Good luck for the next hike – you’ll make it! 🙂

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