10-Year-Old Boy Killed, Brother Presumed Dead in Yosemite

The boys were swept away in the Merced River near Vernal Fall

Vernal Falls

One boy has died and another is missing after the young brothers were swept away in the Merced River at Yosemite National Park on Wednesday.

Yosemite park officials said Thursday the two were part of a family visiting from Southern California that had been hiking the popular Mist Trail near the Vernal Fall Footbridge.

Group members were cooling off in the river Wednesday when a strong current carried the boys away down a treacherous, boulder-strewn stretch of water.

Park visitors were able to pull the 10-year-old from the river about 150 yards downstream, but efforts to resuscitate him failed. He was pronounced dead around 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Authorities are still searching an 8-mile stretch of the river for his 6-year-old brother, who is missing and presumed dead.

Park officials say the Mist Trail remains open during search and rescue operations but portions may close depending upon developments.

The boys were part of group of about 15 extended family members who made the short hike to the footbridge, park spokesman Scott Gediman said. While signs at the trailhead warn that the river can be dangerous, people often are drawn to the water's edge.

"We've got a low-water year this year, and around the banks it's only 8 to 10 inches deep, but once you get our further, we have a swift current and it gets deeper,'' Gediman said. "They both got swept away by the current.'

The trail is one of the most popular but often most perilous hikes in the park. That's because the river drops down a narrow gorge filled with large boulders and continues to descends to the point where it reaches the brige. The drop in elevation and narrow channel cause the water to move swiftly.

In July of 2011 three people were presumed dead after they fell from the 317-foot Vernal Fall at the park.

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