Yosemite National Park official unclear on how Indian couple fell to death
How a young Indian techie couple, who regularly shared their travel adventures with thousands of social media followers, plunged to their deaths from a cliff in California's Yosemite National Park may take several weeks and it was "too early to speculate," a park official said.
Vishnu Viswanath, 29, and his wife, Meenakshi Moorthy, 30, living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area, were the two who died last week in a fall from Taft Point, a scenic overlook located 3,500 feet above the Yosemite Valley.
Some US media reports said the couple, both IT professionals, from Kerala, may have plunged to their deaths while taking selfies at the dangerous spot.
But Jamie Richards, a spokeswoman for Yosemite National Park, said investigators still do not know how they plunged to their deaths last Wednesday from the iconic overlook high above Yosemite Valley.
She said the investigation is expected to take several weeks, The Mercury News reported.
"We still don't have any clear idea exactly what happened," Richards said. "We are still trying to piece it together."
Two people who knew the couple, however, believe they may have been trying to take a photo, The Washington Post reported.
"It's clearly a very tragic circumstance and as the investigation progresses we will have a better idea of possibly what happened," Richards told KFSN television station, noting that it is "too early to speculate."
"We do not know any of the circumstances of what may have happened up there."
Taft Point has been one of Yosemite's iconic tourist spots for more than 100 years. Named for former US President William Howard Taft, who visited it in 1909, the point has been a site of countless photos over the decades, proposals and even some weddings.
The bodies of the couple, who had been married for four years, were found about 800 feet down the side of a steep cliff from Taft Point, which is located near the end of Glacier Point Road and has sweeping views of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan and Yosemite Falls.
Authorities said that park visitors first spotted the couple late Wednesday. On Thursday, rangers hiked and rappelled down the cliff to recover their bodies, with the help of a helicopter from the California Highway Patrol.
Richards said that investigators notified the victims' families, who live in India, over the weekend.
The metal railing at Taft Point was undamaged, and Richards said that park officials do not plan to install any additional railings along the high cliffs overlooking Yosemite Valley.
"We are continuing to investigate what happened in this tragic incident," she said. "When you come to a place like Yosemite National Park and you go to places with majestic, scenic views, there is an inherent level of personal risk."
Viswanath had been a software engineer at Cisco since July.
The company issued a statement late Monday saying: "It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of a Cisco employee, Vishnu Viswanath."
"As always, we will pull together to extend our support to the employee's family and our fellow colleagues during this difficult time," The Mercury News quoted the statement as saying.
Ten people have died in the Yosmite Park this year, and six of those park visitors fell to their deaths. In May, Asish Penugonda, a 29-year-old Indian national, fell to his death while ascending the park's famous Half Dome trail.
(With inputs from agencies.)