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19-year-old Yosemite hiker swept over waterfall

Margaret Swofford


Search called off until river water lowers

This past Saturday in Yosemite a 19-year old hiker, Aleh Kalman, was swept over Nevada Falls. The 600-feet fall, with water running at 500 cubic feet per second, has authorities presuming that the teen is dead.

Rescuers began search soon after Kalman fell over the waterfall around 2:45 p.m. on Saturday until dark, but Sunday they had to postpone the search due to high water in the river.

The tragedy initially occurred after Kalman swam out to a rock in the middle of the Merced River and, on the swim back, was overtaken by the strong river flow. Witnesses confirm that after being swept down river 150 feet, he went over the Nevada Falls. The teenager had been on a hiking trip with his church group, Second Slavic Baptist Church in Sacramento County.

Following the accident, teams of rescue workers closed off Mist trail, the trail leading to Nevada Falls, and employed three dog teams to help find young Kalman. A California Highway helicopter also assisted in the search for Kalman.

Unfortunately, “we believe it’s impossible to survive a fall like that,” park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.

Denis Koleukhov, a fellow church member of the Kalman’s family, grieves for the Sacramento teen.

“They looked forward. They didn’t think anything bad would happen,” Koleukhov told “KCRA.”

Until the water levels lower, and the rescue can begin again, the park rangers will keep an eye out for Kalman.

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