A National Park Service photo of the Merced River shows where Andrew and… (National Park Service )
The trip to the mountains, the church's assistant pastor said, was an opportunity to "experience God's beautiful creation."
But the weeklong church outing turned tragic when two brothers -- one 10, the other 6 -- waded into the Merced River in Yosemite and were swept away. The body of the older brother, Andrew Adams, was found a short time later, and he was pronounced dead after resuscitation efforts failed. The younger boy, Jacob, has not been found, but is believed to be dead also.
"It's just terribly sad," said Assistant Pastor Maury Evans of Calvary Chapel East Anaheim. "There's just a lot of grieving here."
As the search continued Friday on a mile-long stretch of the Merced, where the waters cascade over boulders and tumble down small waterfalls, the church's Facebook page filled with prayers and hopeful thoughts. Tragedy and misadventure are nothing new at Yosemite. Last summer, three young people from a Modesto church died when they splashed into the water near Vernal Fall and were swept over the 317-foot drop.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, August 19, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Yosemite tragedy: In the Aug. 18 LATExtra section, an article about two young boys who were swept away in the Merced River in Yosemite National Park misidentified one of the youths as Andrew Adams. His name is Andres "Andy" Adams.
They were among 18 people killed at the park last year, a record.
The Orange County boys, along with their mother, father and an older brother, were among the parishioners who attended the church's family outing at Sugar Pine Christian Camps in the foothills south of Yosemite. While many of the church members spent Wednesday at Bass Lake, the boy's family headed off for a day at Yosemite, Bob Kopeny, the pastor at Calvary Chapel, said in a statement posted on the church's website.
As they hiked along the Merced River, the boys decided to cool off in the water once they reached the Vernal Fall footbridge, the National Park Service said. But they were overpowered by the turbulent water.
The boys' mother, Char Adams, and an older brother tried to rescue the children, but the efforts failed. The mother and the older brother were injured during the rescue effort and were hospitalized.
The body of the older boy, Andrew, was found downstream about 150 yards from the footbridge. But efforts to resuscitate him failed. The search continues for Jacob, though church officials said it's believed he's probably dead.
"We are asking for prayers for Jacob to be found soon so the family can have some measure of closure and focus on beginning the healing both physically and emotionally," Kopeny wrote in a message on the church's website.
Evans, the assistant pastor, said Char Adams and her husband had recently married and were a blended family that attended the church.
Janice Reish, the grandmother of Char Adams' older children from a previous marriage, called her former daughter-in-law an "excellent mother."
"She was very protective of her children," Reish said.