An Israeli teen who fell 600 feet to his death in Yosemite National Park in September was dangling from a steep ledge and posing for a picture when he suddenly lost his grip before several horrified tourists, according to a new report.
Tomer Frankfurter, 18, of Jerusalem, was visiting a family friend in Fresno, California, for several weeks last fall before he planned to return home and start his service with the Israeli army. But Frankfurter and his friend got separated after arriving at the nearly 1,200-square-mile park, leading him to join another group of tourists from Israel, Germany and other countries to trek along the strenuous, 5.4-mile Mist Trail above the 594-foot Nevada Fall, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
After eating lunch at what’s billed on Yosemite’s website as a “thunderous waterfall,” Frankfurter and his newfound companions were getting ready to leave Nevada Fall when he had a last-minute idea: He wanted a daring picture of himself.
So Frankfurter tossed off his orange backpack and gave his phone to a young woman in the group before starting to climb over the cliff’s edge. He ignored several hikers, who told him to stop, and within seconds, he was hanging hundreds of feet above steep, rocky terrain below.
The woman tasked to capture Frankfurter’s risky maneuver, meanwhile, took several photos, according to details of the fatal Sept. 4 accident obtained by the newspaper via a Freedom of Information Act request.
“I need help,” Frankfurter suddenly said, causing several in the group to grab his arms and wrists.
The other hikers, strangers just a short time ago, were now straining to pull Frankfurter back onto the trail, but the teen’s arms were slick with sweat, and the teen slipped away to his death in an accident that “he was entirely in control of until the point of the fall,” according to a report written by a Yosemite park ranger.
“The witnesses that attempted to render aid were heroic in their actions,” the ranger wrote. “But once Frankfurter descended to hang from the edge of the cliff face, there was nothing they could have done to prevent his fall with the equipment available.”