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Hiker Missing Near Upper Yosemite Falls

| June 19, 2011

Yosemite National Park is searching for 30 year old George Penca, from Hawthorne, California. Penca, who has been missing since Friday, June 17 was last seen on the Upper Yosemite Fall trail in Yosemite Valley where he was hiking with a group of people from his church.

At approximately 9:00 p.m. on Friday, the Yosemite Emergency Communications Center received a call from a member of the group reporting Penca as a missing person. The group began hiking to Upper Yosemite Fall earlier in the day. Once at the top of Yosemite Falls, the group dispersed. Upon return to Yosemite Valley, the group noticed that Penca was absent and thought he may have returned ahead of the party. Penca did not return to Yosemite Valley and a missing persons report was filed.

Penca is 5’ 10” tall, weighs 240 pounds, and has dark brown hair, blue eyes, a stocky build. He was last seen wearing gray sweatpants with white stripes, a black t-shirt that says “D&B” across the chest, or a black tank top, and gray/blue running shoes. He was carrying a blue cloth bag and had very little food and water. The group was intending to hike to Upper Yosemite Fall as a day-hike.

Anyone in the area of the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail on the 17th whether you’ve seen Penca or not, is asked to please call the Search and Rescue Command Post at 209-372-0311 or 209-372-0252. Your information may help focus the search area and find the missing hiker sooner.


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Category: missing


About Loyd: For over 30 years I've enjoyed hiking, backpacking, fishing, photographing and exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. More About the Author. View author profile.

Comments (2)

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  1. Pat Townsley says:

    This is going to be an exceptionally brutal year of accidents. How do we get the message across to wear hiking boots over running shoes and bring ample water and food? Our prayers go out for George and his family for his safe return. To everyone else: Accidents are 99.5% operator error. Stay on the trails and use EXTRA caution this year, especially near the water; it’s big and deceptively fast: stronger than you. Keep and eye on the kids at all times.

    • Kristi G. says:

      I have to say that I was there this weekend and watched the rescue team assemble and heard the helicopters. It wasn’t extremely hot, but yes the water was high and swift. All we had ourselves were running shoes to wear. We stayed on the easy trails, but the majority of vacationers to Yosemite are not seasoned hikers. Maybe they could have warning signs at the trailheads that proper shoes should be worn and that children should be watched. I was at Happy Isle with my 5 year old and it surpised me how many people allowed their small children to run freely around that dangerous water. But alas, it’s a free country and I don’t agree with requirements for trails, but suggestions.

      Maybe, if you are an involved hiker, you could propose something to educate visitors. Who knows what happened to George. I won’t speculate or judge. We all do things that we regret… I hope he is just lost and they find him soon.