The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 11, 2013

Pondering deaths along Yosemite path

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — The two sisters boarded the morning bus to the Happy Isles trail head, ice cream cones in hand.

For 50 years, their tradition has been to start a day on Mist Trail with some mint chocolate chip.

Before they left on this year’s trip, friends told Patty Frehler, 67, and Suzanne Barovick, 66, “Don’t go over the falls.” And they weren’t entirely joking.

On June 1, Aleh Kalman, 19, was swimming above Nevada Fall and the current carried him over the precipice. Last August, 6- and 10-year-old brothers were swept downriver below Vernal Fall. The year before, the river carried three young people over the top of 317-foot Vernal as a crowd of helpless picnickers watched in horror.

At least 14 people have gone over falls along the Mist Trail in the last 10 years. None survived.

Three days after the latest death, the line between adventure and foolishness, and whether the National Park Service should do more to protect people from making deadly mistakes, was on the minds of many people on the fabled trail.

“We’ve been coming to Yosemite since I was 18 and back then I don’t think we ever heard of a death,” Frehler said. “Nothing’s really changed. Same mountains. Same river. So, why are so many more people dying?”

Frehler considered the first stretch of shady, paved path, where the Merced River bubbled beside a stone wall.

“It looks innocent. Maybe they need bigger warning signs,” she said.

Her husband, Bob Bentley, strongly disagreed.

“They have more precautions now and they haven’t done any good. It’s like air bags in cars — people just drive faster,” he said.

Less than a mile into the hike, the first bridge offered a jaw-dropping glimpse of Vernal Fall in the distance. Bob Heath, 83, held hands with Evelyn Treadgold, 84, and looked at a view he hadn’t seen since 1951.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • American doctor in Africa gets treatment for Ebola BOONE, N.C. (AP) — An American doctor infected with the deadly Ebola disease received intensive treatment Sunday in West Africa and was in stable condition, talking to his medical team and working on his computer, a spokeswoman for an aid group said.

    July 27, 2014

  • Salmonella Outbreak Trial [Duplicate] Trial in salmonella outbreak to start in Georgia ATLANTA (AP) — Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georg

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitfalls emerge in health insurance renewals WASHINGTON — For the 8 million people who persevered through all the technical travails in the new health insurance exchanges and managed to sign up for coverage in 2014, their policies will probably automatically renew come November when open enroll

    July 27, 2014

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Sunday agreed to observe a 24-hour truce in Gaza after initially rejecting a similar Israeli offer, as fighting resumed and the two sides wrangled over the terms of a lull that international diplomats had hoped c

    July 27, 2014

  • Solar car race to end at University of Minnesota MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A cross-country solar car race is set to finish at the University of Minnesota on Monday. About 10 solar cars from colleges around the world are competing in the eight-day, 1,700-mile American Solar Challenge. The race began July

    July 27, 2014

  • Dozens of oil trains pass through Minnesota weekly Railroad documents released by the state Department of Public Safety show about 50 trains carrying crude oil from North Dakota are passing through Minnesota each week.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medical Marijuana [Duplicate] Wanted: Manufacturers for Minn. medical pot program After the long slog to legalize medical marijuana, the state's real work has begun to get the unconventional medicine in severely ill patients' hands by this time next year.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Minneapolis to NYC flight diverted to Milwaukee MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis to New York City has landed safely in Milwaukee after it was diverted. Delta spokeswoman Kate Modolo says the crew chose to divert the flight Saturday morning out of an abundance of caution a

    July 26, 2014

  • Hamas rejects 4-hour Gaza war truce extension BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (AP) — A Hamas official says the group has rejected a four-hour extension of a humanitarian truce proposed by Israel. Sami Abu Zuhri sent a text message to reporters Saturday, saying: "No agreement to extending the calm for an

    July 26, 2014

  • Arizona execution renews debate over methods SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A third execution by lethal injection has gone awry in six months, renewing debate over whether there is a foolproof way for the government to humanely kill condemned criminals, and whether it's even worth looking for one. Death

    July 26, 2014