Yosemite Deaths Raise Questions of Safety in the Park

As the search continues for a 10-year-old boy swept away by the Merced River in Yosemite, the question of liability in national parks begins again. The parks are meant to be wild and natural, but rely on visitors fees, amongst other revenue, to remain open. Is it negligent to allow people to be so close to waterfalls, rapids, cliffs and rodent-born disease?
Yosemite is not without warning signs. Trailheads note the length of the trail and difficulty. Anything beyond these markers is in conflict with the park’s mission to preserve nature. Lining rivers with guardrails and creating hotels in place of simple tents would turn Yosemite into a resort rather than a preserve.
The case of the missing boy is sad and possibly could have been prevented. The ten-year-old Andy was swimming with his six-year-old brother Jacob just down river from Vernal Falls. These powerful waters drop hundreds of feet down into Yosemite Valley. Though August is a time of low water levels and the shallows seem calm, the water is still moving with great force across slippery rocks on the river banks.
The boys were on a camping trip with their church group at the time. Their mother was watching from further away near the waterfall with other adult members of the church group. The area is a popular resting spot along the Mist Trail they were hiking. Regardless, young Andy was swept into the river and drowned. Jacob has not been found and is presumed dead. Their mother was also hurt as she ran and fell on rocks trying to reach the shore near where her children were lost.
Like most deaths at Yosemite, the boys were too close to fast moving water. Two other hikers were lost last year when they decided to cross a footbridge that was slick from the proximity to a waterfall. No sign warned them not to cross under wet conditions, but for many hikers this is a decision made based on ability. Rock climbers who scale the face of Half Dome make a similar call, where they intentionally put themselves in danger and rely on their own equipment to survive. Both hikers who cross the bridge fell off the slick pedestrian bridge trying to save time with the short cut.
The park is responsible for maintenance and care of the land. Negligence would be if the there was a foreseeable and preventable danger in the conditions of the maintained land. For the park, controlling Driving An Accident Damaged Car the water levels and speed isn’t reasonable. However, there could have been other precautionary actions that weren’t taken. Then, the question is how to enforce safety rules in the huge park.
Ultimately, the care of young children falls to the guardian present at the time of the accident. Separating from a group in the wilderness is dangerous not only because people easily lose track Personal Injury Settlement of their position in the park, but because help is that much further away. It’s best to exercise as much caution as possible to avoid these terribly sad situations of loss in the wild.

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