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Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety

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avatar Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 06:58PM
And so it begins… I wonder what the odds are of a consultant's findings being at odds with what the persons paying them believe. Could this sum it up? ""I'm not content with that skimpy little rail," Kiryakous said"

Families make repeated journeys to Yosemite waterfall

That last line in the Modesto Bee is a great way to absolve the victims of any personal responsibility.

&
Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 07:05PM
""I was here two minutes and I realized there was a problem," he said, adding that if he had been aware of the dangers, he wouldn't have let his son go on the trip."

Sorry, but I cry foul!!! If you don't know, instinctively that there is inherent danger in being at the top of a waterfall, then you must have your head in the sand.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 07:16PM
But...how could anyone be expected to see scenes like this (different river, but so what):



and not immediately think "swimming hole"!?
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 08:32AM
Sorry. I'm one of those who would look at that and say, "Class ??? rapids?! No way, José!!"
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 07:08PM
Yes, they're 'concerned' for 'other hikers'. Surely they should have consulted those 'other hikers' before becoming concerned...

I fully understand why an attorney was quickly retained, anyone who's lost loved ones that haven't been recovered, and may not be for some time, has a major legal problem. I'm thinking some attorneys are less ethical than others with respect to the potential for fees.
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 07:17PM
These families didn't hire this 'consultant' because they are worried for other hikers' safety at the falls. They are likely assessing the possibility of a lawsuit.

If they were concerned about safety they wouldn't be pushing and pushing the NPS to send in teams to recover the bodies. No one should ever put his/her life at risk to recover a dead body and it is really amazing to me that these families seem to expect that.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/27/2011 07:17PM by Mom.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 07:26PM
This is kind of off-topic, but I went to the website for Kiryakous' organization (http://www.genesisbehaviorcenter.com/), and if you read the HTML src code, it's hilarious! Seriously, it's full of hidden porn links. Go to it and click "View Page Source". It's filled with stuff like "site contacto sexual fee anal hard core" and "Seymour Butts girls". Just look it up in google and see the description given under the link! If she wants to sue anyone, she should sue her web developer.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/27/2011 07:29PM by mbear.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 07:31PM
Awesome! This is how we will discredit them after they recommend installing a 6' high wall with parapet and wireless sensors.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 07:35PM
I really can't wait to see her report that she's going to release Friday. It should be great comedy to read how it's not the fault of the people who decided ignore a huge sign and then climb a fence so that they could walk into a raging river just above a 300 foot fall.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/27/2011 07:36PM by mbear.
Quote
mbear
I really can't wait to see her report that she's going to release Friday. It should be great comedy to read how it's not the fault of the people who decided ignore a huge sign and then climb a fence so that they could walk into a raging river just above a 300 foot fall.

So well put! I understand that this family is going through the stages of grief, but they are really making it harder and harder to stay sympathetic. A wall in front of Vernal Fall (and presumably every other waterfall) will not bring back their loved ones.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 07:36PM
From another article this is a family friend.

My condolences to the family.

But seriously, you want cash for your loss.
Pisses me off.

Unless your an elephant the railing is fine.

p.s. - nice video rodney - views will be way up there now



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 07:41PM
On a related note I heard the park is going to drain the falls.

They said it would take about up to a couple of months to perform the task though.

(I'm disgusted with this famly)



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 08:06PM
Quote
chick-on
On a related note I heard the park is going to drain the falls.

They said it would take about up to a couple of months to perform the task though.

(I'm disgusted with this famly)
Scary face
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 07:57PM
Quote
chick-on
From another article this is a family friend.

My condolences to the family.

But seriously, you want cash for your loss.
Pisses me off.

Unless your an elephant the railing is fine.

p.s. - nice video rodney - views will be way up there now
Head roll When I left on my trip last week, before the deaths, the count was around 100. It was up to 800 when I got home, just from searches, I guess.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/27/2011 08:00PM by hotrod4x5.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 08:02PM
Quote
hotrod4x5
Head roll When I left on my trip last week, before the deaths, the count was around 100. It was up to 800 when I got home, just from searches, I guess.

The comment in the LA Times will help. wink



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 08:10PM
We really have a disconnect here between the perspectives of the family members and those on this board.

"Ask anybody," said Shamiran David. "My son is a gentleman. All of those kids were mature and well-behaved. They wouldn't do silly things to risk their lives."

Would you say they did something silly?
Would you say the risked their lives?

--

Does anyone know if this was the first time these people had ever been in a wilderness environment?
The only way I can think of to explain their actions is that they just DIDN'T KNOW HOW much DANGER they were placing themselves in.
And that makes me think they'd never been on wet potential slippery rock, or seen or heard of the power of running water deeper than a couple of inches. ( and wasn't the water 1 foot or more in depth? )

( Yet every time a flood covers a road SOMEONE has to drive through the water and end up having to be rescued! )

Some aspects of risk assessment are a learned skill that they apparently didn't have.

I hope there found soon. Then that part of this will have a termination. However I wouldn't be surprised if it takes months.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 08:17PM
Quote
qumqats
Does anyone know if this was the first time these people had ever been in a wilderness environment?
The only way I can think of to explain their actions is that they just DIDN'T KNOW HOW much DANGER they were placing themselves in.

Lots of people think warnings are bs; like they're only there to cover the NPS in the case of lawsuit or something.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 08:22PM
Quote
qumqats
We really have a disconnect here between the perspectives of the family members and those on this board.

"Ask anybody," said Shamiran David. "My son is a gentleman. All of those kids were mature and well-behaved. They wouldn't do silly things to risk their lives."

Would you say they did something silly?
Would you say the risked their lives?

If the reports posted here are correct that they urged children to join them, then...yes to both questions. Perhaps the family has denied those reports, but I haven't yet seen that.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 09:02PM
Anger is part of the normal grieving process
(see Death and Dying by Kubler-Ross).


Here is an interesting bit from the NPS Half Dome website QA:
Quote

Isn’t part of the wilderness experience taking and assuming risks associated with outdoor activities such as climbing Half Dome?
When we install and maintain a structure or facility, such as the Half Dome cables, we have a responsibility to ensure that structure or facility is safe. The number of people hiking to Half Dome, and thus using the cables, has steadily increased over the last 20 years. The cables constrain the flow of hikers both up to and down from the summit more than any other part of the route to the top. Having this limit is similar to ensuring that the safe capacity of our theater or busses is not exceeded.

Paradoxically, the very presence of the guard rail represents a structure that creates an obligation to repair, maintain, update, or optimize. In some respects, no guard rail would be better from a liability point of view (although not from a safety point of view). Kind of like putting up a "Beware of the Dog" sign--- implies that you have a known dangerous dog that could cause injury.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 09:27PM
Quote
Frank Furter
Anger is part of the normal grieving process
(see Death and Dying by Kubler-Ross).


Here is an interesting bit from the NPS Half Dome website QA:
Quote

Isn’t part of the wilderness experience taking and assuming risks associated with outdoor activities such as climbing Half Dome?
When we install and maintain a structure or facility, such as the Half Dome cables, we have a responsibility to ensure that structure or facility is safe. The number of people hiking to Half Dome, and thus using the cables, has steadily increased over the last 20 years. The cables constrain the flow of hikers both up to and down from the summit more than any other part of the route to the top. Having this limit is similar to ensuring that the safe capacity of our theater or busses is not exceeded.

Paradoxically, the very presence of the guard rail represents a structure that creates an obligation to repair, maintain, update, or optimize. In some respects, no guard rail would be better from a liability point of view (although not from a safety point of view). Kind of like putting up a "Beware of the Dog" sign--- implies that you have a known dangerous dog that could cause injury.

I've seen no assertion, anywhere, that the guard rail in question was in disrepair. I have seen statements that it was jumped, w/ no denials of that.

As for "anger" and "grieving", you'll observe that my first criticism in this thread was of the attorney, who presumably suffered no loss, and who presumably acts as fiduciary to his/her clients.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/27/2011 09:27PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 09:41PM
Quote
ttilley
I've seen no assertion, anywhere, that the guard rail in question was in disrepair. I have seen statements that it was jumped, w/ no denials of that.

The adequacy of the guard rail, it seems to me, would nevertheless be an issue in any litigation.


Quote

As for "anger" and "grieving", you'll observe that my first criticism in this thread was of the attorney, who presumably suffered no loss, and who presumably acts as fiduciary to his/her clients.

If you are critical of the lawyer, I think that is misplaced. Torts are resolved by litigation and the lawyer must represent his/her clients interests.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 09:55PM
Quote
Frank Furter
Quote
ttilley
I've seen no assertion, anywhere, that the guard rail in question was in disrepair. I have seen statements that it was jumped, w/ no denials of that.

The adequacy of the guard rail, it seems to me, would nevertheless be an issue in any litigation.


Quote

As for "anger" and "grieving", you'll observe that my first criticism in this thread was of the attorney, who presumably suffered no loss, and who presumably acts as fiduciary to his/her clients.

If you are critical of the lawyer, I think that is misplaced. Torts are resolved by litigation and the lawyer must represent his/her clients interests.

I am expecting that in dealing with a client suffering the 'anger' stage of 'grief', the attorney is responsible for being the adult in the attorney-client relationship.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 10:21PM
Quote
ttilley
Quote
Frank Furter
Quote
ttilley
I've seen no assertion, anywhere, that the guard rail in question was in disrepair. I have seen statements that it was jumped, w/ no denials of that.

The adequacy of the guard rail, it seems to me, would nevertheless be an issue in any litigation.


Quote

As for "anger" and "grieving", you'll observe that my first criticism in this thread was of the attorney, who presumably suffered no loss, and who presumably acts as fiduciary to his/her clients.

If you are critical of the lawyer, I think that is misplaced. Torts are resolved by litigation and the lawyer must represent his/her clients interests.

I am expecting that in dealing with a client suffering the 'anger' stage of 'grief', the attorney is responsible for being the adult in the attorney-client relationship.

I think I understand what you are getting at, however, anger and grief are qualitatively normal adult reactions to loss (although they can become problem in the extreme) .The plaintiff's lawyer is supposed to make the best case possible (which might seem like exaggeration to someone who disagrees) and make the system serve his/her clients.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 09:00PM
If you are standing looking at torrential waters thundering over a 317 foot cliff, where, if not upstream, would one think that water is coming from. That would mean that it must be flowing quite powerfully 20-25 feet from the brink. Isn't this the kind of thing one looks at, and without having ever seen or had described the dangers, instinctively realizes is extremely dangerous (as in the possibility of being out in the middle of those waters makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck)? Similarly, I don't need a sign to tell me of the dangers of falling off the edge of the north or south rim of the valley wall, or off of half dome. All this seems pretty obvious. And yet, I just realized, people pack themselves onto the halfdome cables like sardines, even moving to the outside of the cables under the illusion that they are "in control". So, I don't really know what to think. It's sad.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 28, 2011 12:42AM
All that and the reports that other people were yelling and begging them to come back to where it was safe.

It is sad, but what they did was reckless, irresponsible and (reportedly)willfully ignorant of numerous warnings.

This sort of thing should never spawn a successful lawsuit that affects the rest of our enjoyment/freedom in our public lands. Alas, it just might confused smiley
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 28, 2011 04:37AM
I hope it's like that lawsuit where my 6th grade teacher, after doing many unprofessional things with students (like drinking in the classroom), was fired and he fought it. I hope the "experts" tell the family they don't even have a case.

Common sense would say that climbing over a barrier past a warning sign and ignoring people yelling to get out is (perhaps not intentionally but still willfully) suicidal - not the park's fault. But we all know sense is not common in the legal arena.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 27, 2011 08:21PM
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 07:36AM
But, what are the chances that three adults, who are not blood related, would be stricken with the same disorder at the same time? You can't even claim hypnosis by watching the flowing water.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 07:51AM
Quote
SierraGold
But, what are the chances that three adults, who are not blood related, would be stricken with the same disorder at the same time? You can't even claim hypnosis by watching the flowing water.

I am not pretending to make judgments on this whole event, although I do have a personal opinion. My point is merely to introduce the idea that all things are not as they may appear initially and many other factors may be important to consider. Oversimplification can be misleading and result in a kind of summary judgment and vigilantism rather than rational analysis.

Like what HL Mencken said about human behavior:

There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 28, 2011 03:18AM
from the classic mountaineering literature

Human error is a reckless luxury in an environment where trespassers are merely tolerated.
Greg Child, Mixed Emotions , page 117
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 28, 2011 08:45AM
I got this directly from their website:

Genesis Behavior Center was initiated in December 2003 with the goal of providing appropriate, research-based behavior intervention services to children with autism. Its founder, Romina Kiryakous, has long had a passion for children with this disability. After working with established providers in the field, obtaining her Master's degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and Counseling Psychology, and conducting much research and self-study, she formed Genesis Behavior Center. Mrs.Kiryakous is currently pursuing her Ph.D in Psychology.

What qualifications does a autisitic counselor have to be hired as a consultant on a incident that did not include autistic children? I also read that her methods include those developed by B.F. Skinner. For those who did not have to take Behavior Science in college, Skinner studied Operant Conditioning which is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior where an association is made between a behavior and it's consequences. Not to sound crass and unfeeling, unfortunately these three people's behavior lead to consequences that were fatal. If the families want to make a credible point about the safety of the Vernal Falls area they should have hired someone that has experience in the field of Park and Recreation Safety/Park and Recreation Management.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 28, 2011 01:02PM
Sounds like a friend 'o' the family/fellow church member.

"Hey! I can help. I run a company who's name makes it sound like I can do risk assessment."
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 28, 2011 08:56AM
In this age of people playing video games, jumping off cliffs and over waterfalls is behavior that you can survive. (This is mild behavior compared to the death and destruction of some games.) Even when you "die," you have no real consequence. Maybe this mentality has crept in the sensibility portion of the brain, where people don't see the real consequence of their action. (Therefore the suit should be directed towards the video game creators ???)

The only person in this group involved in the incident that seemed to have any sense was the child in her father's arms.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 28, 2011 12:53PM
Quote
hikerchick395
In this age of people playing video games, jumping off cliffs and over waterfalls is behavior that you can survive. (This is mild behavior compared to the death and destruction of some games.) Even when you "die," you have no real consequence. Maybe this mentality has crept in the sensibility portion of the brain, where people don't see the real consequence of their action. (Therefore the suit should be directed towards the video game creators ???)

The only person in this group involved in the incident that seemed to have any sense was the child in her father's arms.

Or we can sue Hollywood

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5RRjdhbxPk
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 28, 2011 09:01AM
"I'm not content with that skimpy little rail," Kiryakous said.

I cringe when I read comments like this. If people like her had their way you wouldn't be able to do anything in the park. Vernal Falls has a skimpy railing?! How about Taft Point? How about Oh My Gosh Point? Or the countless places with no railings at all? Has she ever been to Yosemite before? Hopefully this goes nowhere.



Panoramic Images - http://panoramas.aa6g.org/
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 28, 2011 09:09AM
There is no rail on the top of Half Dome, maybe she will get one installed there also.
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 28, 2011 09:09AM
If I recall correctly from reading various books about the National Parks, I don't think anyone has been successful in bringing a lawsuit of this type against the National Park Service.

If such a lawsuit was successful, railings would have to be put up along the rim of the length of the Grand Canyon. It's ridiculous and I think any jury of people with any common sense (if the case even got that far) would think the same.
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 28, 2011 09:38AM
Unfortunately I remember a settlement in Yosemite. A mountain biker rode on a trail clearly marked with the bike with red circle/slash sign and got injured when she fell over the side. She won her suit...don't think it went to a jury trial.
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 07:49AM
Do you really call that "winning a suit"? I call that settling out of court. Maybe the NPS is choosing their battles wisely. Settling out of court saves a LOT of money. I wonder what the pay-off was? Normally, instead of asking, I would take time to look it up. I don't have that luxury today.
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 08:12AM
We were camping in Little Yosemite Valley the day this occurred and the ranger warned us that it had happened.

I have to say, I was shocked later that evening when we were discussing Half Dome with the people camping next to us (we were planning to go up HD the next day; they had been up that day) and a grown man told me that "the Park Service wouldn't let you do Half Dome if it wasn't perfectly safe." I bit my tongue but when my husband mentioned it to me later, I told him I 100% disagreed with that statement and that I thought that we were 100% responsible for our own safety and the Park Service had nothing to do with it.

Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of people who just don't take the warnings seriously and assume that someone is looking out for their safety, and that if they can do something, it must be safe.

(I also wouldn't call the fence at Vernal a 'skimpy little rail,' but that's just me.)
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 09:05AM
Quote
happykamper

(I also wouldn't call the fence at Vernal a 'skimpy little rail,' but that's just me.)

In my opinion, the railing at Vernal Falls is pretty skimpy, and if it were a couple of young kids (12-year-old or younger) that hopped over it and drowned, their parents might have a good case. Put it another way, if a homeowner had a fence like the one at Vernal Falls surrounding his swimming pool, he would probably still be held liable by a court if some neighborhood kids had hopped over the fence and drowned in his swimming pool.

But the three that were swept over the falls were NOT kids anymore. They were adults who should have been wise enough to know with the warning sign and the fence that it was very dangerous to do what they did. And they were reminded by the danger by other park visitors that were in the area.

Their parents can't claim that their adult children were not aware of the danger, especially after other park visitors took the trouble to get involved and inform the two that their behavior was very dangerous and that they should get out of the water immediately.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 09:29AM
Quote
plawrence
In my opinion, the railing at Vernal Falls is pretty skimpy, and if it were a couple of young kids (12-year-old or younger) that hopped over it and drowned, their parents might have a good case.

The top of vernal falls is in the WILDERNESS. I was surprised that there was a fence at all. When you take your children into the wilderness you have to insure their safety yourself. It's not up to anyone, even the govt, to do that for you. And, my avatar is of me and my then 5 year old daughter at the railing at the top of vernal falls. So, I do understand what it means to take a child into the wilderness. I certainly did not let my daughter run around up there without me right with her.

All of this expecting the govt to keep you safe in the wilderness is crazy. Once they do that it is no longer WILDerness. And that would be a great tragedy.
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 12:19PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
happykamper

(I also wouldn't call the fence at Vernal a 'skimpy little rail,' but that's just me.)

In my opinion, the railing at Vernal Falls is pretty skimpy, and if it were a couple of young kids (12-year-old or younger) that hopped over it and drowned, their parents might have a good case. Put it another way, if a homeowner had a fence like the one at Vernal Falls surrounding his swimming pool, he would probably still be held liable by a court if some neighborhood kids had hopped over the fence and drowned in his swimming pool. .

I also do not feel that the fence at Vernal is skimpy.

As for the pool fence example, I don't think that this is a good comparison. Pool fences have to be to city code so no one would ever put up a Vernal Fall type fence around a pool. Secondly, Yosemite is a park and not a urban neighborhood and there are inherit risks in a wilderness and not every thing can be posted for dangers. I agree with Hitech, if you take a small child into a park, even a city park, you had better keep them close. My son is 15 and has been hiking in parks since he could walk and even now I keep a watchful eye on him when he is near a river or on a cliff. Heck, I even keep an eye on my husband because when he is taking pictures he does not always notice how close to the edge of things he is getting.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 01:30PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
happykamper

(I also wouldn't call the fence at Vernal a 'skimpy little rail,' but that's just me.)

In my opinion, the railing at Vernal Falls is pretty skimpy, and if it were a couple of young kids (12-year-old or younger) that hopped over it and drowned, their parents might have a good case. Put it another way, if a homeowner had a fence like the one at Vernal Falls surrounding his swimming pool, he would probably still be held liable by a court if some neighborhood kids had hopped over the fence and drowned in his swimming pool.

But the three that were swept over the falls were NOT kids anymore. They were adults who should have been wise enough to know with the warning sign and the fence that it was very dangerous to do what they did. And they were reminded by the danger by other park visitors that were in the area.

Their parents can't claim that their adult children were not aware of the danger, especially after other park visitors took the trouble to get involved and inform the two that their behavior was very dangerous and that they should get out of the water immediately.

I think the pool analogy breaks down because a kid is perfectly capable of walking to someone's yard to jump in his pool. No 12 year-old is going to drive himself to Yosemite and hike up the Mist Trail on his own though. He'll be with parents, an older sibling, uncle/aunt, etc. who will be responsible for his actions.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 02:05PM
Quote
mbear

I think the pool analogy breaks down because a kid is perfectly capable of walking to someone's yard to jump in his pool. No 12 year-old is going to drive himself to Yosemite and hike up the Mist Trail on his own though. He'll be with parents, an older sibling, uncle/aunt, etc. who will be responsible for his actions.

In a perfect world.

I think we've all seen at Yosemite, kids (usually boys), some as young as 7 to 8 year olds, race ahead of their parents on trails, including the Mist Trail. It's not inconceivable that a 12-year-old and his friends could race way ahead of their parents on the Mist Trail and be at the brink of Vernal Falls unsupervised by any of his parents (or other adult members of their group).
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 02:22PM
Quote
plawrence
It's not inconceivable that a 12-year-old and his friends could race way ahead of their parents on the Mist Trail and be at the brink of Vernal Falls unsupervised by any of his parents (or other adult members of their group).

It is still the responsibility of the parents (or whomever is responsible for the children) to insure they are safe, not the govt. The NPS CANNOT protect you or your children in the wilderness, period. It is certainly not the NPS's responsibility to keep you or your children out of wilderness areas that exceed "your" skill level. And I certainly would not want them to. This is NOT an amusement park. The wilderness needs to be left alone. I don't want to be kept away from it. The only change I would endorse is rangers writing tickets for illegal activities and more education. But not the fencing in of the wilderness. What next, a railing/fence surrounding Half Dome? Why not? I could have taken my daughter there had I wanted to (probably will when she is older).

Personally, I don't like the railing at Vernal Falls. I would prefer it wasn't there at all. Warning signs, back further from the river so as to not be so obtrusive, warning of the danger is what I would prefer.

Leave the wilderness wild.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 02:46PM
Wilderness is never completely wild.
There are many, many situations where the NPS decides that a location is too dangerous, even in the wilderness. For example, in Yellowstone NP, frequently a popular swimming area called the Boiling River (actually the Gardiner River) is regularly closed for high water in the spring and low water (burn risk) in the fall. Bear closures occur depending upon "wilderness events"-- bears going about their usual activity. Areas with natural fires in progress are closed to travel. I would imagine areas at risk for landslide, avalanche, falling trees, or other dangers are also temporarily closed. The Half Dome permit system was an attempt to deal with the dangers posed by too many people on the cables and represents another form of regulation imposed by the NPS for safety concerns.

I suspect the arguments about liability will focus on whether the visitor accessible area at Vernal Falls should have been closed. The almost unprecedented high water this year (and youtube videos showing the water even up to or under the guard rails) may strengthen that argument. I don't welcome this sort of expectation of oversight from the NPS, but it is understandable that someone could argue the safety issue.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 04:22PM
Quote
Frank Furter
Wilderness is never completely wild.
There are many, many situations where the NPS decides that a location is too dangerous, even in the wilderness...

When areas are deemed too dangerous for ANYONE, then closing them is acceptable. However, this was not the case. Emerald Pool is too dangerous for anyone and IT IS CLOSED. That is good enough. No different than closed areas in ski resorts. If you decide to venture into closed areas you will suffer the consequences. Nothing more is needed (nor wanted by myself) than a sign showing it to be closed. I don't want to be protected from myself. I'll make my own decisions please.

Quote
Frank Furter
The Half Dome permit system was an attempt to deal with the dangers posed by too many people on the cables and represents another form of regulation imposed by the NPS for safety concerns.

A difference situation. NPS maintains and installs the cables. The cables are part of the problem, in addition to crowding of people. Those are two examples of where NPS does need to consider safety issues. Had the railing at the falls been the cause of the problem then the situation would be different. if there were so many people that some walked in the water trying to get around the crowd then it would be different. However, nothing like that happened. Some people choose to enter an area they knew to be closed. They made their own choice.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/29/2011 04:35PM by Hitech.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 11:12PM
Quote
Hitech
Quote
Frank Furter
Wilderness is never completely wild.
There are many, many situations where the NPS decides that a location is too dangerous, even in the wilderness...

When areas are deemed too dangerous for ANYONE, then closing them is acceptable. However, this was not the case. Emerald Pool is too dangerous for anyone and IT IS CLOSED. That is good enough. No different than closed areas in ski resorts. If you decide to venture into closed areas you will suffer the consequences. Nothing more is needed (nor wanted by myself) than a sign showing it to be closed. I don't want to be protected from myself. I'll make my own decisions please.

Quote
Frank Furter
The Half Dome permit system was an attempt to deal with the dangers posed by too many people on the cables and represents another form of regulation imposed by the NPS for safety concerns.

A difference situation. NPS maintains and installs the cables. The cables are part of the problem, in addition to crowding of people. Those are two examples of where NPS does need to consider safety issues. Had the railing at the falls been the cause of the problem then the situation would be different. if there were so many people that some walked in the water trying to get around the crowd then it would be different. However, nothing like that happened. Some people choose to enter an area they knew to be closed. They made their own choice.

No one exclusively makes their own decisions in the parks or visits the wilderness uninfluenced by outside factors. The NPS is relied upon to make some minimal determinations of the safety of visitor accessible areas. If someone is injured or dies, the question arises, was the NPS negligent? Even in situations that seem obviously one sided, close examination of the details may reveal that preventable circumstances facilitated the accident or injury. For example, a fatal bear mauling of a child in 2007 while in a tent with food improperly stored, recently resulted in a finding of negligence by both the parents and the government (in this case, the Forest Service) with the government found to be 65% responsible.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/05/05/36377.htm

Other examples of failure of duty of care (not specifically related to the NPS):
http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/07/25/38420.htm
http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/07/12/38063.htm



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/29/2011 11:16PM by Frank Furter.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 10:29AM
Quote
Frank Furter
For example, a fatal bear mauling of a child in 2007 while in a tent with food improperly stored, recently resulted in a finding of negligence by both the parents and the government (in this case, the Forest Service) with the government found to be 65% responsible.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/05/05/36377.htm

A developed campsite it not even close to the same thing as the wilderness. And certainly, if the same thing happened in upper pines campground the NPS should be held responsible for letting those staying there that a safety problem existed.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 10:43AM
Quote
Hitech
Quote
Frank Furter
For example, a fatal bear mauling of a child in 2007 while in a tent with food improperly stored, recently resulted in a finding of negligence by both the parents and the government (in this case, the Forest Service) with the government found to be 65% responsible.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/05/05/36377.htm

A developed campsite it not even close to the same thing as the wilderness.

Um, if you going to be that particular, I would state that the area of the Mist Trail by the top of Vernal Falls is pretty developed too, with railing and a warning sign. I've been at designated campgrounds that felt far less developed than the area around the brink of Vernal Falls.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 11:30AM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
Hitech
Quote
Frank Furter
For example, a fatal bear mauling of a child in 2007 while in a tent with food improperly stored, recently resulted in a finding of negligence by both the parents and the government (in this case, the Forest Service) with the government found to be 65% responsible.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/05/05/36377.htm

A developed campsite it not even close to the same thing as the wilderness.

Um, if you going to be that particular, I would state that the area of the Mist Trail by the top of Vernal Falls is pretty developed too, with railing and a warning sign. I've been at designated campgrounds that felt far less developed than the area around the brink of Vernal Falls.


If you look at the Nat. Geo. Trails Illustrated Map, that area is considered a suburb of Downtown Yosemite (i.e., not a Wilderness Area). The boundry extends up past Nevada Fall. (It also goes up Tenaya Canyon to just past the Snow Creek Trail.)

So, the NPS should at least have a sign up there warning the visitors that a dangerous river is lurking in the area.
Oh, wait a minute....
Nevermind.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/30/2011 11:31AM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 02:42PM
Quote
Hitech
Quote
Frank Furter
For example, a fatal bear mauling of a child in 2007 while in a tent with food improperly stored, recently resulted in a finding of negligence by both the parents and the government (in this case, the Forest Service) with the government found to be 65% responsible.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/05/05/36377.htm

A developed campsite it not even close to the same thing as the wilderness. And certainly, if the same thing happened in upper pines campground the NPS should be held responsible for letting those staying there that a safety problem existed.

Many on the discussion boards were of the opinion that the government had no liability whatsoever. Just an example of a tort case.
If you want something outside a campground, there is another complicated case evolving with regard to a botanist (Evert) who was mauled fatally by a bear recovering from a tranquilizer 1 year ago. Final report pending so far as I know, but lots of blame to go around.

some info here:
http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2010/06/investigation-launched-grizzly-bear-mauling-botanist-outside-yellowstone-national-park6077



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 02:26PM
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plawrence
Quote
happykamper

(I also wouldn't call the fence at Vernal a 'skimpy little rail,' but that's just me.)

In my opinion, the railing at Vernal Falls is pretty skimpy, and if it were a couple of young kids (12-year-old or younger) that hopped over it and drowned, their parents might have a good case. Put it another way, if a homeowner had a fence like the one at Vernal Falls surrounding his swimming pool, he would probably still be held liable by a court if some neighborhood kids had hopped over the fence and drowned in his swimming pool.

But the three that were swept over the falls were NOT kids anymore. They were adults who should have been wise enough to know with the warning sign and the fence that it was very dangerous to do what they did. And they were reminded by the danger by other park visitors that were in the area.

Their parents can't claim that their adult children were not aware of the danger, especially after other park visitors took the trouble to get involved and inform the two that their behavior was very dangerous and that they should get out of the water immediately.

I have to agree. The fance is skimpy. They need to do a 12 high poured in place wall. Block wall would be too easy to climb. Then some barbed wire across the top and maybe even the bottom so as to dissuade anyone from even trying to climb it. Maybe even reroute the river to someplace where the fall would be more gradual. Maybe even dam the place up entirely so as to make it completely safe.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/29/2011 03:04PM by telfair ave.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 02:50PM
Can't they just keep the existing (metal) railing, but electrify it?
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 03:09PM
Just close the Mist trail. If someone wants to go to the top of the falls, they will need to take to John Muir trail and hike around the back way.(Only half kidding)smileys with beer
avatar Just close the Mist Trail?
July 29, 2011 03:33PM
Quote
ERICG
Just close the Mist trail.

No! If you can't take the risk, stay off it.
avatar Re: Just close the Mist Trail?
July 29, 2011 03:52PM
Just keep it simple. Though the line of cars waiting to get into the park at the entrance station are often long enough as it is, just require EVERY adult to sign a liability wavier that will indemnify the Park Service from any liability from any injury (or death) they could suffer while inside the park. And require them to sign a liability waiver for their children too. Those that refuse to sign, will be refused entry to the park.

That would eliminate this lawsuit nonsense in a hurry.

(And for those of us with annual park passes, we would be required to sign the waiver only once when we first use the annual pass. Afterwards, we could breeze by in the pass-only lane. wink )
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 04:32PM
Quote
ERICG
Just close the Mist trail. If someone wants to go to the top of the falls, they will need to take to John Muir trail and hike around the back way.(Only half kidding)smileys with beer

That is not going to help at the top of the falls. If someone is not capable of going up the Mist Trail in such a way that they and others around them are not endangered then they have no business going up it. In fact, I am so tired of baby sitting people that I don't even know and preventing them from doing something stupid, that I am to the point that if they can't or won't hike in a safe manner than they should stay at home and not ruin it for everyone else.
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 07:59AM
I was thinking the same thing. It keeps the horses off the fence.
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 12:01PM
Another scenario in which the plaintiff would have a case is if during high waters: a)the ground becomes slippery; b) one of the horizontal bars/rails is missing; c) a person slips into the water as a result.

I have seen railings with missing bars in the park, i.e. @ UYF Overlook.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 12:05PM
Quote
Ohnivy-Drak
Another scenario in which the plaintiff would have a case is if during high waters: a)the ground becomes slippery; b) one of the horizontal bars/rails is missing; c) a person slips into the water as a result.

I have seen railings with missing bars in the park, i.e. @ UYF Overlook.

There is hog wire around the base of the railing at Vernal.



Old Dude
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 05:41PM
All this talk about the "fence" at Vernal Falls seems silly to me. Why do people presume they or their children should be able to enter any National Park and not die that very day? There should be a sign as you pass through the gates that say, "if you proceed further, your chance of dying today increases dramatically". Not that I really believe that. I'd rather be there than on a freeway somewhere. Other people have said it over and over (and I don't know why I'm saying it again except it is SO frustrating): this is not Disneyland. This is not a safe place that has been designed to be thrilling and "wild' looking. It is real. At countless places in the park, one wrong step can result in death. Everyone who enters the park accepts those risks. There is no requirement for the government / park service to protect you from those dangers. There doesn't NEED to be a fence around Vernal Falls. But there IS. And there are signs. But, nonetheless people talk about them being "skimpy", and their children climbing over them and being swept to their death as though that would be someones fault other than the child and the parents. Perhaps a 20 foot concrete wall surrounding the boundaries of the Merced river upstream of the falls would suffice. But what if people get in the water further upstream and are swept downstream? If you take a small child to Taft point, they could completely disappear and fall about 5000 feet to the valley floor in unmarked fissures in the ground, not to mention the fact they could just step, stumble, trip over the edge (or get blown off). It never ceases to amaze me the stupid things people do in nat'l parks. In Yellowstone, people try to play with the buffalo, and in fact have tried to place their toddler children on them to take a photograph. These things do not end well. The question is, "Why would anyone ever dream of doing these things?" The national parks should never be required to enumerate and label every danger. Being there is dangerous. There is always the option to stay home. Every individual should assume responsibility for famiiliarizing themselves with the potential dangers and remain vigilant to danger in their surroundings. Even then, sometimes shit happens. Why is it not OK to say that person X died because a) they did something extremely foolish / stupid, b) something beyond their control happened, etc? I have read that the family of the individuals who perished at Vernal Falls insist that those young people were not "risk takers", but the facts as they seem to be known indicate that they did in fact take a risk. No one can argue that reasonable people could not evaluate that situation and come to the conclusion that climbing a fence (with a sign warning you of the dangers) and entering the waters of a raging river immediately above a 317 foot waterfall is anything but "risky". Maybe people do these things without taking the time to evaluate them adequately. Maybe they get "caught up in the moment". If all else fails, it would seem that human instinct would alert one to the danger. I did not retreat from the top of half-dome one day immediately upon noticing clouds gathering and moving that way. Nothing happened. But, had I been killed from a lightening strike it would have been entirely due to my negligence and stupidity. I was watching the clouds closely, but still. Ultimately they switched directions and moved away from half dome. I should know that that is risky. Additionally, there are signs that explicitly tell you of the dangers. It would be ludicrous to think that the NPS should station a ranger there to monitor that situation. People also talk about the dangers of the crowded cables. Well, yeah, they are dangerous. Don't go up. I will NOT go on those cables if I can't move from the bottom to the top with minimal delay. Do people need a ranger at the bottom to space people out? NO. Ok. This is pointless. I will stop.
avatar Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 06:43PM
Quote
Frank
Ok. This is pointless. I will stop.

An excellent quote to close out the thread with.



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 04:05PM
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I really can't wait to see her report that she's going to release Friday. It should be great comedy to read how it's not the fault of the people who decided ignore a huge sign and then climb a fence so that they could walk into a raging river just above a 300 foot fall.

A+ post... you summed it up perfectly.

I'll tell you one thing, if a loved one of mine died, I would be in mourning right now, not hiring consultants and gearing up for a lawsuit.
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 29, 2011 09:54PM
Whether time to weigh in--who knows? Being an attorney, I am sure some would jokingly ask why I am not with a grizzly in Yellowstone (at least I am not a politician in DC). I cannot imagine what the family members are now going through. I would imagine that like them I would look for someone to blame--looking to make some sense of what occurred. I feel for them and I pray for them as I would anyone--anyone who has lost someone so close, someone they loved so much. For family members and close friends, let's allow them to grieve, vent, scream, cry, and blame. It is what we would do. But that aside, individuals who speak on their behalf need to be careful what they say. Let's not use this tragedy as an opportunity to prosper. The metal rail line above Vernal is not a skimpy little rail--if one was leaning on it and it fell into the river then yes, rinky dink. I was there in late June--the water was finding its way on the other side of the rail--no need for a warning sign. But press reports and those present (and I certainly understand that the media can misconstrue things and get the facts wrong) appear to show that certain individuals ignored both the "skimpy little rail" and warning signs by either hopping over the rail or moving outside of it. If the railing fell into the river while one was leaning on it, then let's find someone to blame and target. But that did not happen here. That skimpy little rail remains and has kept thousands/millions of visitors from falling into the river (but how many of these do we need in the wilderness--move up to the top of Nevada and it wide open especially on the western side--do we have railings throughout Nevada? Railings on our way to the top of Half Dome? Panorama point on Panorama trail? Every location that Chick-on visits? How about railings and rangers on every ***damn trail that is popular and raise admission to $50 a pop?)

Last year with my wife and 4.5 year old son, we visited Yellowstone. At the northwestern side of Grand Canyon (plenty of parking--north rim if not mistaken), NPS did some renovation a few years ago. Certain spots have stone walls (not that "skimpy little rail" above Vernal) about 3-4 or so feet high. Not much below the stone wall and the river but air. Unfortunately, some stranger began to talk to me while I kept an eye on by son. I should have ignored the stranger and been a bit less friendly. My son was curious and climbed the wall. He got to the top of the wall and I moved over to him to remove him and we had a discussion about safety. This was on me. This had nothing do with Yellowstone or the wall. I should have focused on my son in this situation, should have made sure he was aware of the dangers. He is a great listener--not an issue after this situation. If something had happened, we would have looked for someone to blame.

Let's allow the family to grieve, cry, and blame. It has only been a few weeks. There will be time to criticize, second guess, and question the motives of those who represent the family--apparently, I may have done it with this posting. I love our parks. They truly are, as Ken Burns' said (and given what we are now seeing in DC--he is correct), America's Best Idea. I cried when reading Dayton Duncan's account of his son traveling alone on a trail in Glacier. Like Mr. Duncan's son, every time I visit a national park, it is the best day of my life.
Re: Yosemite waterfall deaths: Families hire consultant to assess safety
July 30, 2011 09:42AM
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That day a grown man told me that "the Park Service wouldn't let you do Half Dome if it wasn't perfectly safe."

Sort of like saying, "The Highway Patrol wouldn't let you drive on the freeway if it wasn't perfectly safe."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/30/2011 09:42AM by Ulysses61.
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