A man slipped and fell into a Yosemite National Park river on Christmas Day, suffering a significant head injury. After receiving a 911 call, park rangers dispatched to the Silver Apron area between Nevada and Vernal Falls to aid the man, but he eventually died from his injuries.
The identity of the man has yet to be released.
The investigation into the death, which is crucial for both family closure and future park safety, has been delayed due to the government shutdown, which has limited the park’s staff to around 50 employees. The death, although tragic, was not an abnormal occurrence in the sometimes dangerous park. But the delayed investigation and reporting on the incident shows the need for government funding for popular, and sometimes dangerous, National Parks during the shutdown.
The shutdown has proved to be a difficult time for Yosemite National Park, which has seen high traffic while being unable to properly patrol the 750,000 acre park. The government decided to keep the park open without funding, creating a modern-day Wild West park with no fees, no trash pickup and no bathroom cleaning.
Long story short, it’s become a giant mess.
Reports of overflowing trash cans led the park to close down some of its most high traffic areas like the Wawona Campground, Hodgdon Meadow Campground, and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. As the number of restrooms in the park are limited, reports of human feces on the side of trails are prevalent, possibly causing long term issues to the area.
Officials have closed many areas of the park due to the large winter storm heading into the area on Saturday. This storm could provide some much needed relief for a park significantly strained by the government shutdown.