YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK — The body of a hiker who went missing in Yosemite National Park after being swept away by a cold and fast-flowing creek as California’s epic winter snowpack melts was found over the weekend, authorities confirmed Wednesday.
Hayden T. Klemenok vanished July 2 while backpacking with a group at Upper Chilnualna Falls, the National Park Service said in a statement.
He went missing shortly after entering Chilnualna Creek near the trail junction, the service said. That section of the creek is about a dozen miles south of Yosemite Valley and features a series of waterfalls and cascades that plunge hundreds of feet.
Cause of Death Under Investigation
Klemenok’s body was found Sunday and recovered Monday. How he died remains under investigation, said Scott Gediman, a spokesperson with Yosemite National Park.
“The cause of death is currently presumed to be accidental drowning.” Kelmenok’s sister, Taylor McKinnie, said in a statement posted on Facebook. She didn’t immediately respond to a Facebook message seeking comment.
Klemenok’s parents told The San Francisco Chronicle that his friends said the day of the accident was hot and the 24-year-old from Petaluma, California, had gotten down on all fours to wet his face, but his hands slipped and he went into the water.
“It’s the worst experience any parent or family should go through,” Michelle Klemenok said.
Nearly Two Dozen California Water Deaths
California authorities have been warning the public that rivers, streams, and lakes are extremely dangerous this year because of the massive runoff. The water is so cold that a person can lose muscle control within minutes, officials say.
Despite the warnings, there have been repeated tragedies. Nearly two dozen people have drowned or gone missing in California rivers since mid-April, according to the Bay Area News Group, which has been tracking reports from local authorities.