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One fatality, one injury, and all people accounted for
A series of rockfalls occurred yesterday afternoon from the Southeast face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Seven rockfalls occurred over a four-hour time span, with the initial rockfall happening at 1:52 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time.
A preliminary estimate for the cumulative volume of all seven rockfalls is about 16,000 cubic feet (450 cubic meters), or about 1,300 tons. The irregular "sheet" of rock that fell is estimated to be 130 feet tall, 65 feet wide, and 3-10 feet thick. The source point is about 650 feet above the base of El Capitan, or about 1,800 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley (which is at 4,000 feet in elevation).
After the initial rockfall, Yosemite National Park Rangers and the Search and Rescue team entered the area looking for people at the base of the rockfall. Two people were found, resulting in one fatality and a serious injury. The victims, a couple visiting the park from Great Britain, were in the park to rock climb but were not climbing at the time of the initial rockfall. The male was found deceased and the female was flown out of the park with serious injuries. The National Park Service is working with the Consulate to notify family members. Until family notifications are completed, the names of the victims are not being released. All other people in the area have been accounted for and search efforts have been concluded.
It has been 18 years since the last rockfall-related fatality in Yosemite National Park. In that incident, rock climber Peter Terbush was killed by a rockfall from Glacier Point June 13 1999. There have now been 16 fatalities and more than 100 injuries from rockfalls since park records began in 1857.
Yosemite National Park remains open and visitor services are not affected by the rockfalls.
Last updated: September 28, 2017