Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite
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Gripping accounts of all known fatal mishaps in America's first protected land of scenic wonders.
groups—along with the millions more who come to see, sense, and enjoy Yosemite for the first time—weave the rich tapestry of human activities upon which Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite is fashioned. Some Yosemite lovers are fortunate enough to live and work there. I was one of them. During my 32-year career with the National Park Service I lived and worked in Yosemite twice; first, as a protection ranger for two years beginning in 1974, then later, from 1989 to 1994, as Park Superintendent. As a
Chilnualna Trail to the crash site to place a small bronze plaque on Buena Vista Peak to commemorate her loss. Her husband and her children’s father, it turned out, had died of that heart attack before even learning of the TWA crash. Thus, in a matter of hours, poor Mrs. Dirlam had lost her entire family. Thankfully, this TWA crash constituted the first—and only—fatal com mercial plane crash in Yosemite. It also remains the Park’s largest accident of any kind in total casualties. During the
signals. Against the odds, someone in a search plane had spotted them. Both men were rescued unscathed but ravenously hungry—no hospitable ranch woman had made them breakfast during their week in the wilderness. Oddly, while Leonard Lydon himself had been rescued from a more or less well known area, his wrecked P-40 still never has been found. Worse, despite every effort, both Lt Richard N. Long and his Warhawk air craft both remained missing. Had he crashed in Yosemite? This utter mystery would
plunging into the forty-five-degree water of Peeler Lake. The windshield burst on contact. This allowed both CHP officers a way out. The two fought their way free of the Bell as it sank forty feet deep with Fenion strapped aboard. Benda suffered vertebral compression fractures and could not swim. Byerley assisted him to shore. Thomas Fenion, however, remained trapped, strapped onto the helicopter on the bottom of the lake where he drowned. Despite a few helicopter crashes in Yosemite, the
<00v View OV Watfona Wawona Road Chinquapin Tamarack Flat ■ Arch Rock Entrai Yosemite West Sierra National Forest Tuolumne Grove & Flat Entrance MapO—y South Entrance- 10 Area west of Yosemite Valley 11 Yosemite Valley 12 Chapter One WATERFALLS ach on a separate trajectory, Eric and Norma Yeoman funneled helplessly into the first drop of Waterwheel Falls. Then into the second fall. Then the third, the fourth, and the fifth. The two desperate young swimmers tumbled and