A 19-year-old man on a trip to Yosemite National Park with a church group on Saturday was caught up in the river current while swimming and swept over a giant waterfall. According to a story reported by NBC News, Sacramento resident Aleh Kalman was pulled along by the powerful undertow in the Merced River and thrown over the 594-foot Nevada Fall.
More than 20 park rescue officials searched the area for a few days on foot and using a CHP helicopter, but they did not continue the search through Monday. Kari Cobb, a park ranger, told news reporters that a fall from a waterfall such as Nevada is “not survivable.”
“The Merced River is very strong, even in places where it appears calm,” Cobb said. “But under the surface, it can be extremely powerful.”
Kalman was a member of a group of 85 members from the Second Slavic Baptist Church in North Highlands on a church retreat in the area at the time. According to The Los Angeles Times, Kalman was attempting to swim to shore from a rock in the center of the river when he was caught up in the current — moving at 500 cubic feet per second at the time of the incident.
Park officials estimate that of the millions of visitors to Yosemite every year, 12 to 15 deaths occur annually.