Teen falls to death in Yosemite

Written by Union Democrat staff June 03, 2013 12:30 pm

A Sacramento-area teenager is presumed dead after being swept over Nevada Fall in Yosemite National Park on Saturday.

The search for Aleh Kalman, 19, was scaled back today to five people, who are looking for his body along the Merced River.

The popular Mist Trail, from the footbridge above Emerald Pool to the top of Nevada Fall, was closed Sunday but reopened today.

Sunday’s search involved 20 search-and-rescue personnel and three dog teams. Park ground teams and a California Highway Patrol helicopter searched Saturday evening.

Kalman was visiting the park with members of the Second Slavic Baptist when the accident occurred, about 2:45 p.m., park officials said.

Kalman, according to park officials, was seen swimming in the Merced River above Nevada Fall, about 150 feet from the edge. Witnesses told park officials he was swimming back from a rock in the middle of the river when he was swept downstream. 

The river was flowing about 500 cubic feet per second, said Yosemite spokeswoman Kari Cobb.

Nevada Fall drops 594 feet and is located upstream of Vernal Fall.

“Although the park received only 50 percent of normal snowpack, rivers within the park continue to run at high levels this time of the year,” Cobb said. “Additionally, the water remains extremely cold and will be throughout the year.”  

Several people have been killed in waterfall-related accidents in recent years. Typically, careless or reckless parkgoers ignore signs warning of cold and fast moving waters.

In early May, a Minnesota photographer fell to his death from a cliff beside Vernal Fall.

He was the first of three park deaths this year. Last month a climber fell to his death while climbing El Capitan.

Kalman also spells his first name Oleg. 

Family members contact this morning  declined to comment.