Body of Missing Backpacker Recovered in Yosemite National Park, Presumed Accidental Drowning

Credit: GoFundMe

The family of a 24-year-old backpacker who was reported missing in Yosemite National Park earlier this month has confirmed the recovery of his body, as reported by PEOPLE.

According to park officials, Hayden T. Klemenok was hiking with a group of friends at Upper Chilnualna Fall on July 2 when he entered Chilnualna Creek near a trail junction around 2 p.m. In an update shared on Facebook, Hayden's sister revealed that the family received notification on Sunday regarding the discovery of Hayden's body. She further explained that due to the challenging location, it took an additional 24 hours to formally recover him. The family believes that Hayden's passing was the result of an accidental drowning, although the investigation is not yet complete.

Expressing their deep grief, Hayden's sister expressed that the family has a difficult journey ahead as they cope with the loss of their beloved brother and son. She emphasized their eternal love for Hayden and the lasting impact he had on their lives.

Hayden, a graduate of San Diego State University, was employed as a financial analyst at Porchlight Realty in North Park, California. He disappeared while hiking with eight college friends during their annual trip to Yosemite. The trail they were on spans eight miles with an elevation of 2,400 feet, as reported by NBC affiliate KNSD-TV.

In a previous statement, park officials urged anyone who may have seen Hayden or had been hiking off trail in the area of Upper Chilnualna Fall on or after July 2, 2023, to come forward with information.

A GoFundMe campaign initiated by Connie Zell, identified as a friend and coworker of Hayden's mother Michelle, has raised over $65,000 to support the grieving family.

The Yosemite Park Service website continues to provide a cautionary message, advising visitors to exercise caution near bodies of water. The advisory emphasizes the swift, cold, and perilous nature of rivers in the park and urges visitors to maintain a safe distance. Additionally, the warning cautions against approaching wet rocks adjacent to rivers and crossing bridges that have water flowing over them.

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