A series of footbridges crossing Wapama Falls was recently labeled “Yosemite’s newest water attraction” in which tourists run or walk across and get thoroughly drenched by the runoff-swollen falls cascading down upon them.
A sign issues a stern warning: “DANGEROUS HIGH WATER … CROSS AT YOUR OWN RISK.”
Sadly, this was the scene of a tragedy Thursday when an unidentified 66-year-old man slipped off one of the bridges, tumbled into the raging water and plunged to his death, according to The Union Democrat and SFGate.
“We do not know what caused him to slip and fall,” Jamie Richards, Yosemite National Park spokesman, told the Democrat on Monday.
When asked if there was water on the bridge when he fell, Richards replied, “We don’t have an answer to that at this time.”
Based on SFGate’s report and video of June 1 showing tourists “running the Wapama Falls footbridges gauntlet” and considering last week’s heat wave in the region, one could assume there was water on the footbridges that caused him to slip.
Witnesses told rangers the man “lost his footing” and “got flipped into the falls,” according to the Democrat. His body was pulled out from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir below.
This video from 2011 offers a glimpse of what it could be like on the footbridges:
The Wapama Falls footbridges had been closed because of high water until the last week of May, when rangers reopened them a few days before the Memorial Day holiday.
Tourists hike 3 miles from the parking area near the dam to reach the falls.
“If you’ve never taken a shower with your clothes on, cross the bridges below the falls in the springtime,” YosemiteHikes.com says about the site.
“There’s no height requirement like you might find at on [sic] an amusement park ride, but parents would be wise to keep small children off the footbridges or at least hold them firmly as they cross,” SFGate wrote about the experience of crossing the Wapama Falls.
“If you do decide to venture over the bridges, plan on whatever you are wearing — shirt, pants, backpacks, socks, shoes, underwear — getting thoroughly soaked. And it’s not going to be a nice, tepid Hawaiian waterfall-type dousing either.
“Instead, expect to be fire-hosed with frigid water that until recently was part of a snowdrift.”
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