Yosemite Swimmer Missing: What Happened To 19-Year-Old Aleh Kalman?

By Philip Ross on June 3, 2013 2:38 PM EDT

missing swimmer
Nevada Fall, a nearly 600-foot-tall waterfall in California’s Yosemite National Park, is one of the park’s most popular short hikes. (Photo: Creative Commons)

A Yosemite swimmer went missing on Saturday after witnesses say they saw him go over the Nevada Fall waterfall.

AP reports that the missing swimmer, 19-year-old Aleh Kalman, was swimming in the waters above Nevada Fall in California's Yosemite National Park on Saturday. He was about 150 feet from the lip of the falls when a current picked him up and spit him over the edge. Nevada Fall is nearly 600 feet tall with a vertical drop of about 480 feet.

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Kalman was visiting Yosemite National Park with a church group. They were hiking the Mist Trail, one of the park's most popular short hikes. The hike is just 3 miles from the trail head in Yosemite Valley to the top of Nevada Fall.

A search effort for the missing Yosemite swimmer started Saturday, but ended when it became dark. It picked up again on Sunday.

Helicopters and ground patrol were dispatched to search for Kalman, who is believed to have perished in the accident at Nevada Fall.

"We believe it's impossible to survive a fall like that," park spokeswoman Kari Cobb told CNN.

According to the San Francisco Gate, the Merced River, which feeds the Nevada Fall, was flowing at about 500 cubic feet per second. That's a powerful pull, and one that could have easily carried Kalman away. From San Francisco Gate:

Visitors are urged to exercise extreme caution around all water in Yosemite National Park, rangers said. Although the park received only 50 percent of normal snow pack this past winter, rivers within the park continue to run at high levels from remaining snow melt. The water is cold and will be throughout the year.

In 2011, three other people perished after they were swept over another one of Merced River's waterfalls, CNN reports.

Just last month, a hiker was killed in Yosemite National Park when he went over the edge of one of the park's waterfalls. iScience Times reported that 73-year-old Kenneth Stensby of Minnesota was found dead at the base of the 317-foot-tall waterfall on Monday, May 6. Park rangers recovered his backpack, which was missing his camera, by the guardrails at the top of the waterfall. 

Read more from iScience Times:

Yosemite Hiker Found Dead: How Was Kenneth Stensby Killed?

Yosemite Hantavirus Outbreak: Cathy Carrillo Sues Park After Contracting Deadly Rodent Virus; What Were Her Symptoms?

Health Officials Warn Of Hantavirus At Yosemite National Park

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