A 32-year-old man visiting Yosemite National Park fell from the popular Mist Trail area into the Merced River and died Christmas Day, and an investigation of his death has been delayed because of the partial federal government shutdown that began Dec. 22.
Joshua Conner, 32, of Los Angeles, was in the Mist Trail area near Vernal Fall when he fell, and someone else witnessed Conner falling into the Merced River, Mariposa County Undersheriff Jeremy Briese said Friday in a phone interview.
Conner was with his dog Leo when he died, according to an obituary published by a Lima, Ohio funeral home.
A coroner’s investigation is continuing, and the cause of Conner’s death was still pending, Briese said.
Andrew Muñoz, acting chief of public affairs for the National Park Service in San Francisco, said via email it was the afternoon of Tuesday, Dec. 25, when staff in the Yosemite National Park emergency dispatch center received a 911 call about a male visitor with a head injury.
Muñoz said the visitor was in the Silver Apron area, where the Merced rushes down gently-sloped, bare granite, above Vernal Fall and below Nevada Fall. The area was not closed at the time.x
“Rangers were on scene in less than an hour, and the visitor was removed from the water,” Muñoz said. “Medical attention was provided to the visitor, but he died from his injuries.”
Chamberlain-Huckeriede Funeral Home in Lima Ohio has an obituary for Conner that says he passed away at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 25, 2018, while hiking in Yosemite National Park.
Conner was born in Lima in April 1986. He graduated from Bath High School in Lima in 2005 and he went on to earn a nursing degree at Rhodes State College in Lima. He was an athlete who loved the outdoors and he spent time doing crossfit, weightlifting, hiking and surfing.
Conner died doing what he enjoyed, hiking in the great outdoors with his favorite canine companion, Leo, his obituary states.
Muñoz said the National Park Service and staff in Yosemite aren't releasing more detail about Conner’s death because “the incident remains under investigation, which is taking longer than usual because of the shutdown.”
A news release wasn't issued because of the shutdown, Muñoz said.
Just after 4 p.m. Friday, a staffer who runs Yosemite National Park’s social media accounts posted to Twitter and Facebook, “John Muir and Mist Trails to Vernal and Nevada Falls, as well as Tuolumne and Merced Groves, will be closed beginning January 5 for safety and human waste reasons.”
For more information about closures and limited services in Yosemite, go online to www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/shutdown.htm.