YOSEMITE — Another massive rockfall near El Capitan has closed down Northside Drive on the valley floor in Yosemite National Park. The rockfall happened at 3:21 p.m.
There was an injury associated with today’s event, say park officials. The injured person was flown out via air ambulance to receive medical care at an area hospital.
The rockfall is significantly larger than yesterday’s, says Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman. Geologists are assessing the size and weight of the rocks that slid during today’s rockfall, and those estimates will be released soon.
“Rockfalls are a common occurrence in Yosemite Valley and the park records about 80 rockfalls per year,” says Gediman, “though many more go unreported. The rockfall from El Capitan was similar in size and extent compared with others throughout the park, though it is not typical that there are victims.”
The man killed in yesterday’s rockfall has been identified as Andrew Foster of Wales. He was 32 years old. His wife is undergoing medical treatment in an area hospital.
Connie Tran, KSEE24 reporter, said on Twitter that she and her photographer were on scene when the whole thing happened.
“My photographer and I witnessed the whole ordeal, it was so loud, and thunderous.”
Tran is reporting that she has spoken with the wife of a male victim who has been taken to a Modesto hospital with a fractured skull, but is expected to be okay.
Witnesses described a loud booming noise just before the huge cloud of smoke and dust rose up as the rock and debris crashed down the rock face.
“Rockfalls are part of a natural process,” Gediman told KSEE24. “There’s nothing we can do to stop them, and we don’t have any plans to close the area.”
For the next 24 hours at least, Northside Drive will be closed between Camp 4 and El Capitan crossover. Traffic is being detoured to Southside Drive, which has been changed to two-way traffic.
Yosemite National Park remains open and Gediman says visitor services have not been affected by the rockfalls over the past couple of days.
We will update as more information comes in from Yosemite National Park.