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Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail

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avatar Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 19, 2011 08:48PM
Learned about this from a ranger at the Yosemite Creek trailhead today:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/parknews/pencasar1.htm

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Yosemite National Park Searches for Missing Person Near Upper Yosemite Falls

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Date: June 19, 2011
Yosemite National Park is searching for 30 year old George Penca, from Hawthorne, California. Penca was last seen on the Upper Yosemite Fall trail in Yosemite Valley where he was hiking with a group of people from his church. He has been missing since Friday, June 17.

At approximately 9:00 p.m. on Friday, the Yosemite Emergency Communications Center received a call from a member of the group reporting Penca as a missing person. The group began hiking to Upper Yosemite Fall earlier in the day. Once at the top of Yosemite Falls, the group dispersed. Upon return to Yosemite Valley, the group noticed that Penca was absent and thought he may have returned ahead of the party. Penca did not return to Yosemite Valley and a missing persons report was filed.

Yosemite National Park is asking anyone in the area of the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail who may have information on George Penca to please call the Search and Rescue Command Post at 209-372-0311 or 209-372-0252. Penca is 5’ 10” tall, weighs 240 pounds, and has dark brown hair, blue eyes, a stocky build. He was last seen wearing gray sweatpants with white stripes, a black t-shirt that says “D&B” across the chest, or a black tank top, and gray/blue running shoes. He was carrying a blue cloth bag and had very little food and water. The group was intending to hike to Upper Yosemite Fall as a day-hike.

The park helicopter has been assisting ground teams in the search for Penca. Additional Search and Rescue teams include personnel from Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue, Mariposa County, Mono County, Fresno County, Marin County, and Yosemite Search and Rescue Dog Teams.
avatar Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 21, 2011 04:35PM
Below are some photos of the missing Yosemite hiker, George Penca, with the clothes he was wearing when he disappeared on Friday, June 17 after 4:00 PM near the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. He has yet to be found.

The following is from Yosemite National Park's Facebook page:

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If you were near the top of Upper Yosemite Falls, the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail, or any trail between Yosemite Valley and Tioga Road on Friday or Saturday, June 17-18, please call the Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue Office at 209/372-0311 or 209/372-0252 whether you have seen George or not. Your information will help us focus the search area. If you have trouble getting through you can call 209/379-1992 at any hour. (If you have information, please call these numbers rather than posting it here.)

GEORGE PENCA
-30 years old, 5 ft 10 in, 220 pounds
-Dark brown hair about 4 inches long, blue eyes, stocky build, speaks English.
-Last seen wearing gray sweatpants with white stripe, a black t-shirt that says “D & B” or a black tank top, gray/blue running shoes, had a blue cloth bag.
-Last seen at the top of Upper Yosemite Fall on Friday, June 17 at 4pm.


avatar Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 21, 2011 09:05PM
Here's the latest update on the search for the missing hiker (last seen near the top of Upper Yosemite Falls on Friday, June 17):

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Yosemite National Park Press Release:

Search Continues for Missing Hiker in Yosemite National Park

Date: June 21, 2011

Search Efforts Scaled Back on Fifth Day of Search

The search continues in Yosemite National Park for missing hiker George Penca, who was last seen at the top of Yosemite Falls on Friday, June 17, 2011. Due to the fact that the area has been thoroughly searched by personnel and dogs, the terrain is rugged and steep, and no clues have been found, search efforts are being scaled back.

Penca, from Hawthorne, California, began hiking the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail on June 17 with a group of 20 people from his church. The group dispersed at the top of the waterfall and later regrouped to hike back to Yosemite Valley. Penca did not meet back up with the group and a missing persons report was filed later that night.

Initial search activities began on Friday night, June 17, with ground Search and Rescue personnel searching the area Penca was last seen. A full-scale search operation was initiated on Saturday, June 18, including approximately 105 Search and Rescue personnel, two helicopters from Yosemite National Park and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, dog teams, and 14 California County Search and Rescue teams. The search area included 70 square miles of rugged terrain ranging in elevation from 4,000 feet above sea level to 8,000 feet above sea level.

The change in search strategy was implemented after review of continuing risk exposure for Search and Rescue personnel and the lack of clues as to Penca's location. Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue teams will remain in the Yosemite Falls area and will continue ground search efforts.

Yosemite National Park is asking anyone in the area of the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail who may have information on George Penca to please call the Yosemite Emergency Communication Center at 209-379-1992. Penca is 5' 10" tall, weighs 240 pounds, and has dark brown hair, blue eyes, a stocky build. He was last seen wearing gray sweatpants with white stripes, a black t-shirt that says "D&B" across the chest, or a black tank top, and gray/blue running shoes.

Agencies involved in the search for Penca include: Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue, Inyo County, Mono County, Mariposa County, Marin County, Fresno County, Tuolumne County, China Lake, Los Angeles County, Nevada County, Sierra Madre, Yosemite Search and Rescue Dog Teams, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and California Explorer Search and Rescue.
avatar Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 21, 2011 09:15PM
sad smiley

>sadness<



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/21/2011 09:17PM by qumqats.
avatar Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 21, 2011 09:23PM
As long as he has access to water, there's still hope. Most people should be able to survive up to two weeks without eating, especially if they have extra reserves of fuel (fat) within their body. Staying hydrated though, especially in this heat, is the key.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 13, 2012 11:19AM
Hi everybody,

George was my friend's brother. His mom is taking it pretty hard, and we all would like some closure, but it's comforting to see how many people care. Thank you all for your comments. Unfortunately, he still has not been found. I am going to Yosemite this weekend for the first time with my family. Please pray for his family.

Thank you.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 13, 2012 12:24PM
I can't imagine the pain that the family and his friends are going through not knowing what happened. My thoughts are with you all.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/13/2012 12:26PM by parklover.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 18, 2012 11:07PM
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parklover
I can't imagine the pain that the family and his friends are going through not knowing what happened. My thoughts are with you all.


Thank you sir. God has comforted the family and friends.
avatar Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 21, 2011 09:07PM
That explains all the YOSAR activity yesterday.
avatar Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 22, 2011 09:16PM
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 23, 2011 09:54AM
Going on a week now, I'm afraid the outcome is very grim at this point. This is a good reminder to always keep other members of your hiking party in view. Sad.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 23, 2011 02:48PM
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hotrod4x5
Going on a week now, I'm afraid the outcome is very grim at this point. This is a good reminder to always keep other members of your hiking party in view. Sad.

That's always good advice, but it might not have helped in this case. Separated hikers have usually wandered off the trail or taken the wrong fork. If you are at the top of the falls, and looking for the trail down, it's almost impossible to wander very far....everything else is up. Very much up, and the creek flowing nearby will certainly guide you back towards the falls and the trail down. And the area has been thoroughly searched by now. That leaves only a few possibilities:

1) Tried to get water from the creek above the falls (and slipped in). I've seen people getting water here often. Bad idea, especially if you are light-headed after hiking up.

2) Fell off the steps near the pipe rail overlook and went over the edge. Or tried to get a better picture on slick rock near the top of the falls.

3) Tried to take a shortcut from the trail on the way down. This has happened before, with bad results. But the helicopter would have found him in that case.

Less likely:

3) Suicidal, or chose to disappear after hiking down.

Still, it's always possible to hope for a miraculous outcome. Perhaps this will be one of the rare events that go against the odds.
avatar Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 23, 2011 03:27PM
Not to get too morbid, since people who know him might still be reading this thread, but I would think if he had accidentally gone off the cliff (or the falls itself) at the top, that his body would have been spotted pretty easily below the falls by now. My guess is that if he fell or slid off the trail, it was probably further down the trail away from the falls themselves.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
September 18, 2011 01:01PM
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plawrence
Not to get too morbid, since people who know him might still be reading this thread, but I would think if he had accidentally gone off the cliff (or the falls itself) at the top, that his body would have been spotted pretty easily below the falls by now. My guess is that if he fell or slid off the trail, it was probably further down the trail away from the falls themselves.

If he did go into the river/creek, or scramble to the brink, you'd think someone would have seen him. There are usually lots of people sunbathing, getting water, or in the creek cooling off during that time of year. If he climbed over the rails at the Overlook, people would probably notice even if people mostly mind their own business. Overlook/Footbridge is a popular area, yet no one saw a thing. I guess it only takes a few seconds for something to happen.

A leader of a large group should assign partners.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
September 18, 2011 01:12PM
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Ohnivy-Drak
If he did go into the river/creek, or scramble to the brink, you'd think someone would have seen him. There are usually lots of people sunbathing, getting water, or in the creek cooling off during that time of year. If he climbed over the rails at the Overlook, people would probably notice even if people mostly mind their own business. Overlook/Footbridge is a popular area, yet no one saw a thing. I guess it only takes a few seconds for something to happen.
A leader of a large group should assign partners.

Actually, people often walk up the slick rock above the overlook, angling towards the creek for a better view of the lip of the falls, which you can't quite see. I have seen numerous people up there, wandering around. You are soon out of sight of anyone at the overlook. All it takes is one slippery bit of sand on the otherwise grippy surface and you would be gone. Unseen by anyone.
avatar Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 23, 2011 04:26PM
He also could have headed east or west along the rim trail.

Lots of possibilities, possibility to never be answered.
avatar Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 23, 2011 04:50PM
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qumqats
He also could have headed east or west along the rim trail.


I think that wherever's main point was that it is virtually impossible to get geographically lost from that location unless you work really hard at it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/23/2011 04:52PM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 23, 2011 04:58PM
Some people have no sense of direction and would lost even up there. I'm not saying that's what happened, just that the possibility has to be considered.

Also, maybe he went exploring. People don't always stay in the same area. They make side trips, "ohhh what's that over there?", "what's in this direction?", etc
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
September 17, 2011 11:31AM
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hotrod4x5
Going on a week now, I'm afraid the outcome is very grim at this point. This is a good reminder to always keep other members of your hiking party in view. Sad.

I think park services has removed his "Missing Person" alert/flyer from the UYF trailhead. Another baffling case.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 27, 2011 06:40PM
Any updates on the missing person? I still can't understand where this guy went. In the photos, he doesn't look like someone who could even make it to the top of the falls let alone continue to hike away from the area.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 27, 2011 06:54PM
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ERICG
Any updates on the missing person? I still can't understand where this guy went. In the photos, he doesn't look like someone who could even make it to the top of the falls let alone continue to hike away from the area.

It's easy to disappear when the creek is this high. If you fall in, there is a good chance that you will end up under a boulder somewhere. There have been a number of people never found, or not found until low water...

Let's hope that isn't what happened.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
July 27, 2011 01:18PM
Any updates? Found, not found?
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
July 27, 2011 03:49PM
Hate to say it but he most likely wont be found until the water level goes down a bit
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
July 29, 2011 11:56PM
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ryanmj
Hate to say it but he most likely wont be found until the water level goes down a bit

Hopefully he simply emptied out his bank accounts and doesn't want to be found. Cooling off in the creek is more likely, or maybe took a bad shortcut returning from Yosemite Point.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
September 17, 2011 01:40PM
Now that the water level is down around Yosemite Falls, you would think if he did fall in/over the falls, he would have been found by now.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
September 17, 2011 02:06PM
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ERICG
Now that the water level is down around Yosemite Falls, you would think if he did fall in/over the falls, he would have been found by now.

Not necessarily. It is a bit squeamish to think about, but what do you think would happened to a body that went over a 1,000+ ft drop and then was in raging white water pounded against rock for a month? If he did go in the river, which seems likely, I don't think they will find much of him if anything. Also, after last weeks storms the falls are going pretty good right now so they won't be able to search it anyhow.

Same goes for the 2 bodies still missing at Vernal Falls. They are maybe stuck underneath a boulder, but if not, there might not be a lot left of them.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
September 17, 2011 02:43PM
I have to agree with you. Sad but true.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
September 18, 2011 06:45AM
I'm hardly a forensics expert, but if the worst actually occurred, I would have thought some bone would have been found at the base of the falls or under a boulder.

Bone is fairly strong, and easier to spot against the darker boulders.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
September 18, 2011 12:57PM
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yosemitenut
I'm hardly a forensics expert, but if the worst actually occurred, I would have thought some bone would have been found at the base of the falls or under a boulder.

Bone is fairly strong, and easier to spot against the darker boulders.

No matter what happened (going over the falls, fallen tree, heart attack/heat stroke off trail), hopefully some trace of him is found. For the sake of his family and friends.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/11/2011 01:24PM by Ohnivy-Drak.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
December 10, 2011 08:49PM
Good size contingent of Search & Rescues volunteers continuing with the search for George, today. They were looking under every bush, walking off trail down the drainages and just about everywhere else. As we walked by, one of the guys yelled out that he had found a black, white and gray shirt which happens to be the color George was wearing when he went missing. They were going to photograph it before moving it. The bad news is he is still missing, the good news is that there are still those who are putting in quite a bit of time trying to bring closure to this incident.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 07, 2012 12:51AM
We he ever found?
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 07, 2012 05:18AM
I was wondering that also. I climbed to the top of the falls last week and thought about him.
Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 07, 2012 10:12AM
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healeygirl
I was wondering that also. I climbed to the top of the falls last week and thought about him.

Yes. Each time I see Yosemite Falls, and/or go up the trail, I think about this poor fellow. "What happened to George?" Always a short conversation about him. It's baffling, and so sad.
avatar Re: Missing Person: Yosemite Falls Trail
June 07, 2012 11:35AM
I do the same thing for the guy that went missing above lake Vernon on the way to Tiltill back in 05. If I remember correctly the park service actually called my buddy (the permit was in his name) and asked if we had seen him. Apparently he has put his pack down by the stream above Vernon and they never found him.

http://yosemiteblog.com/2005/06/24/can-you-help-find-a-missing-hiker-in-yosemite/
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