A young travel-obsessed couple who plunged more than 200 metres to their deaths from an iconic lookout at California’s Yosemite National Park had shared an eerie warning on social media just months earlier.
Park rangers recovered the bodies of 29-year-old Vishnu Viswanath and 30-year-old Meenakshi Moorthy on Thursday about 245 metres below Taft Point, where visitors can walk to the edge of a granite ledge that doesn’t have a railing.
The Indian software engineer, who had recently moved to California from New York, had set up their tripod near the ledge on Tuesday evening, his brother, Jishnu Viswanath explained.
Park visitors the next morning saw the camera and alerted rangers, who “used high-powered binoculars to find them and used helicopters to airlift the bodies,” he said.
On March 28, Ms Moorthy shared a sunset image on Instagram where she can be seen sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon. But it’s the caption, not the photo, that is now being scrutinised.
“A lot of us including yours truly is a fan of daredevilry attempts of standing at the edge of cliffs and skyscrapers, but did you know that wind gusts can be FATAL?” she wrote.
“Is our life just worth one photo?”
Yosemite spokeswoman Jamie Richards said in a statement that park officials were investigating the deaths and that the investigation could take several days.
The couple’s funeral will take place in the US because the bodies were not in a condition to be flown back to India, Jishnu Viswanath said.
‘She was very close to the edge’: Wife spotted in couple’s photo
In yet another unnerving coincidence, a man who had hiked to the same spot with his girlfriend captured pictures of Meenakshi prior to her fall, saying she accidentally appears in the background of two of their selfie photos.
Sean Matteson said Meenakshi stood out from the crowd enjoying the sunset atop Taft Point last week because her hair was dyed bright pink and that she made him a little nervous because he felt she was standing too close to the edge.
“She was very close to the edge, but it looked like she was enjoying herself,” said Matteson, who lives in Oakland, California.
“She gave me the willies. There aren’t any railings. I was not about to get that close to the edge. But she seemed comfortable. She didn’t seem like she was in distress or anything.”
Matteson said Ms Moorthy’s pink-haired visage appears in the background of two photos he snapped of himself and his girlfriend Drea Rose Laguillo.
Matteson said he doesn’t recall noticing Viswanath when he and his girlfriend were at the overlook with less than a dozen other tourists. The couple left the overlook as darkness was approaching, Matteson said.
The couple was “travel-obsessed,” Ms Moorthy wrote on a blog called “Holidays and HappilyEverAfters” filled with photos of them in front of snowy peaks, the Eiffel tower and tulip fields. She had wanted to work full time as a travel blogger, Viswanath said.
The couple graduated in 2010 from the College of Engineering, Chengannur, in Alapuzha district of Kerala state, one of their professors, Dr. Nisha Kuruvilla, told AP.
She said the couple were both good students who were fond of travelling and had married at a Hindu temple in Kerala in southern India four years ago.
In India, after a rash of selfie-related deaths, the Tourism Ministry in April asked state government officials to safeguard tourists by installing signs in areas where accidents had occurred declaring them “no-selfie zones.”