(Photo: facebook/Oleg Kalman)
Although they have yet to find his body, officials from California's Yosemite National Park have declared a Sacramento teenager who was reportedly swept away by a nearly 600-ft waterfall in the park on Saturday as most likely dead.
The teenager, Oleg Kalman, 19, had visited the park with a youth group from the Second Slavic Baptist Church in North Highlands, Calif., on Saturday. While swimming in the Merced River just before 3 p.m., according to officials, he got caught in the strong currents of the river's fast-moving waters which drove him downstream and over the waterfall.
Despite a frantic search and prayers from his family, the teenager remains missing.
"My brother Oleg has fallen from waterfall in Yosemite please pray! Everyone is looking for him," said his brother Nick Kalman in a harried tweet on June 1.
But after more than 24 hours of searching, spokeswoman for the park Kari Cobb delivered the news that no one close to Oleg Kalman wanted to hear on Monday.
"We believe a fall from the top of that waterfall is not survivable," Cobb noted in a report on Monday. "We have moved to limited, continuous searching."
On Tuesday, The Christian Post reached out to two churches associated with the teen's family, the Second Slavic Baptist Church as well as the Bayside Church in California for updates on the response of the community to the tragedy but responses were unavailable at the time of publication.
In an earlier CBS report, however, Oleg's friend, Bogdan Pishtoy, said he was surprised by the tragedy and would continue to pray for Oleg's family.
"I was pretty shocked; I was pretty sad," said Pishtoy. "I know him as a pretty religious kid; he grew up in a Christian family."
"He was pretty athletic; he was always in shape. He was a fighter. He always had a smile on his face. That's what I remember most about him," said Pishtoy. "He had a whole bright future ahead of him."
Both Pishtoy and Oleg played soccer at San Juan High School from which they both graduated last year. When asked if he believes he would ever see his friend again, Pishtoy who is now a student at American River College agreed with the park officials.
"I think the chances are pretty slim which is pretty sad," he said. "All we can do right now is pray, just hope for the best. It's all in God's hands right now," said Pishtoy.