New details have emerged about the nature of a fall that took the life of an Israeli teen hiking in Yosemite National Park last summer. Tomer Frankfurter died Sept. 4, 2018, while attempting to mimic a popular photograph while dangling from a rock, authorities said.
Frankfurter, an 18-year-old from Jerusalem, had been hiking Yosemite's Mist Trail, a popular 5.4-mile hike that takes visitors up to the 584-foot-high Nevada Fall. According to documents provided to the Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, Frankfurter was hiking with a group of friends he met while on the trail and handed his phone to a young woman before asking her to take his photo of him dangling from the cliff face.
According to The Mercury News, Frankfurter told his new friends that he wanted to duplicate a photo that tourists who go to Brazil commonly take at Telegraph Rock, near Rio de Janeiro. But the photo of Telegraph Rock, which looks daunting and dangerous, is actually an optical illusion that fails to show an actual fall of only a 3 feet. The cliff face Frankfurter fell from was close to 600 feet.
Witnesses told authorities that they tried to tell Frankfurter the photo he was attempting to duplicate is not actually of a steep fall from the ground, but he did not listen to them. The woman with his camera took the photos anyway. Witness accounts said Frankfurter called for help as he struggled to climb back up from his place on the ledge.
"I thought he was joking," one witness told investigators. "I turned around because I couldn't watch, but he was hanging off the rock. Then he started to struggle."
Frankfurter graduated from high school early and had already studied two years at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. At the time of his death, he was visiting a friend in Fresno, California. He had become separated from his friend while on the hike and took to the Mist Trail with a group of strangers he met while at the national park.