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Hiker Was 'All Smiles' Before Tragic Yosemite Death

Alice Yu Xie was found dead at base of waterfall
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2021 9:13 AM CST

(Newser) – California woman Anna Horn may have been the last person to see Alice Yu Xie before her death in Yosemite National Park earlier this month, and she believes her death was a tragic accident. The 41-year-old's body was found at the base of Upper Yosemite Fall on Jan. 16. Horn tells the San Francisco Chronicle that when she passed the woman during a Jan. 14 hike up the falls, Xie was "all smiles." Horn contacted the National Park Service two days later after seeing her listed as a missing person on the service's Instagram account. "I am pretty sure I was the last person to interact with her," Horn says. "It’s just so tragic." She says she was asked what the woman's mood was like. "She seemed happy that day to me,” Horn said in a Facebook post. "In awe of the falls, views, etc."

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Michael Ghiglieri, co-author of Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite, tells the Chronicle that Xie is the first woman to die while hiking Upper Yosemite Fall, but at least six men have died in falls at the site, including Austrian rocket scientist Werner Beinstingl, who slipped while trying to vertical photo down the cliff. Before Xie, the most recent death was that of Irish tourist Shane Michael Kinsella, who, after drinking wine, slipped and fell for real while pretending to fall for a photo. The fall from the top of the waterfall to the base is around 1,400 feet, but too many visitors "don’t evaluate it and conclude, I’d be better off riding a grizzly bear," Ghiglieri says. Xie was a Chinese national living in the US. The NPS hasn't explained why it didn't announce her death until more than a week after her body was found, CBS13 reports. (Read more Yosemite National Park stories.)

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