Two boys who were swept away in a Merced River accident in California this week were part of an East Anaheim church's annual weeklong summer camp at Yosemite National Park, the church pastor says.
According to National Park Service officials, 10-year-old boy Andres "Andy" Adams has died and his 6-year-old brother Jacob is presumed dead, although the search is still on.
"It's just terribly sad," Pastor Maury Evans of Calvary Chapel East Anaheim told The Los Angeles Times. "This is a family that attends our church. They made a decision to experience God's beautiful creation and spent time at the church camp. There's just a lot of grieving here."
The boys' mother, Char-Lee Hargis Adams, of Yorba Linda in Orange County was injured while making an attempt to save them, and is recovering at a hospital in the Fresno area.
"I hope people will pray for us, and pray for those precious little boys," The Associated Press quoted Evans as saying. "We are grieving, I'm grieving. We have a lot of things that happen in the church that at times just rock you," Evans said, adding that many of the church's 3,000 members had called asking how they could help the family.
The pastor said he had been told that the boys' family had decided to go hiking in the Yosemite Valley while the rest of the group visited Bass Lake on Aug. 15, the day of the incident which took place during the church's annual weeklong summer camp. More than 100 were along on the camping trip.
The park is a popular tourist spot, and hundreds of visitors hike Mist Trail, which leads to the waterfall where the Merced River descends into the valley, falling more than 300 feet down to a narrow gorge before descending another 400 feet on reaching the bridge.
At the time of the incident, the mother, an adult son, Josh Reish, and the two young boys had gone into the water below the Vernal Fall Footbridge while the father, Angelo Adams, and Reish's wife watched from the bridge. In the meantime, the boys ended up in white water about 15 feet from the banks and were swept away.
Last year, three friends from a church in Modesto in Stanislaus County, Calif., drowned while cooling off in a pool above Vernal Fall, where the Adams family was hiking.