Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Park worker killed by falling 200-foot tree at Yosemite (w/video)

A park worker was killed by a falling tree in Yosemite National Park during a snowstorm Sunday, officials said.

Destiny Rose Texeira Borges, 20, had been working in retail for the park's concessionaire, Aramark Management Services. According to Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman, the Ceres, Calif., woman had been staying in the cabin area in Half Dome Village — formerly known as Curry Village — and was standing outside when a 200-foot Ponderosa pine fell.

No one saw the accident.

Half Dome Village reopened Monday morning, but the immediate area surrounding the accident site will remain closed as park officials investigate Borges' death.

Authorities plan to examine weather conditions at the time of the accident — several inches of snow fell over the park and powerful winds swept through the area Sunday morning, Gediman said — as well as the tree itself, which was more than 120 years old.

This winter has been particularly rough at the park, Gediman said. Two key roads into Yosemite have been closed because of a series of severe storms that saturated the soil and triggered rock slides. A 100-foot-long fissure developed along Route 120 (also known as Big Oak Flat Road), making the road impassable.

At least two people have been killed in California by falling trees so far this winter.

In December, Margarita Mojarro, 61, was struck by an 80-foot eucalyptus at her daughter's wedding at Whittier's Penn Park. And on Jan. 7, Deborah McKeown, 56, was killed on a Contra Costa County golf course by a falling tree.

Borges' death adds to a history of tree-related fatalities in Yosemite.

In 1985, two tourists were killed and nine injured when a 25-foot-long oak branch fell 15 feet onto an open-air tram.

Seven years later, a large branch from an oak fell onto a tour bus stopped on a main road near the Merced River to observe Yosemite Falls, injuring seven people.

Then in 2012, Ryan Hiller, 27, of Chapel Hill, N.C., a concession worker, was killed when a tree limb crashed onto his tent cabin during a windstorm.

And in 2015, Dragon Kim and Justin Lee, both 14, were killed when a black oak limb fell while they slept in their tent in the Upper Pines Campground of Yosemite Valley.

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