Local

Churches pray for missing Yosemite hikers

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Family and friends of the three hikers gathered Wednesday night in Ceres for an emotional church service. The three missing hikers were highly admired in their North Valley church. Wednesday night church members attended a prayer service.

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Some are hoping for the hiker's safe return while others just want closure. About 500 family, friends and fellow parishoners gathered to pray at the St. George Church in Ceres Wednesday evening. They're praying for the three Stanislaus County hikers who are presumed dead after they fell over Vernal Fall Tuesday afternoon in Yosemite National Park.

"It's really a great loss for all of us, I just hope they find them," Charmaine Morad-Daniel said.

The hikers have been identified as 22-year-old Hormiz David, 21-year-old Ramina Badal and 27-year-old Ninos Yacoub.

Badal's family attended the service. Her mother, Virginia, bawled and slowly walked to her seat with her other daughter by her side.

Tanya, Badal's sister, spoke to reporters before the service. She was standing just feet from her sister when she went over the water fall. Tanya did not go into detail about the incident. She says right now she's praying for a miracle. "We urge all you watchers to continue praying for our families, that they come home safely."

Church leaders, on the other hand, are just praying for closure. Bishop Mar Awa Royel and two of his priests spent the past two days with the three families in Yosemite. "We also pray that the bodies of the victims will be found quickly so that we can perform the proper rights of Christian burial. And also the ease of the parents and families might be expedited."

Friends say the three hikers were heavily involved in their church and the community. Badal played the flute in the church choir and was in the nursing program at the University of San Francisco.

"It just breaks my heart, I know that that family, all three families are just hurting."

Yosemite officials tell Action News that the search for the bodies of the three hikers will resume Thursday.

They say it will be a scaled-back effort, but searchers will be looking along the Merced River, near Vernal Fall sometime between 7 a.m. and 8 am.

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Tags:
missing person, yosemite national park, local
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