What's Behind Spike in Deaths at Yosemite?

Bigger crowds, dangerously high rivers a bad combo
By Tim Karan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2011 5:43 PM CDT
This year is on pace to be one of the deadliest in a long time at Yosemite National Park.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Last weekend's death of a hiker brings this year's Yosemite death toll to 14, more than double the typical number by this time of year. What's going on? The Los Angeles Times thinks two factors may be at play: bigger crowds and the winter's heavy snowfall. Last year was the first time 4 million visitors came to the park since 1996, and this year is on pace to match it.

"A lot of people who come to Yosemite are coming from city situations,” says a park spokeswoman. “A lot of people who are coming to the park aren't familiar with nature and don't understand the implications of their actions.” That's especially dangerous this year because streams and rivers are running high and fast with the melting snow pack. Six of the deaths this year have involved water, including these three.

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