Couple who died in fall at Yosemite were taking photo of themselves, family says

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIF. -- MONDAY, MAY 18, 2015: Taft Point in Yosemite National Park, Calif.
Taft Point in Yosemite National Park is the place where a married couple from India fell to their deaths last week. The two lived in the United States and ran a travel blog that chronicled their adventures around the world.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A married couple who fell to their deaths in Yosemite National Park last week were taking a picture of themselves at the time, the man’s brother said Tuesday.

Vishnu Viswanath, 29, and his wife, Meenakshi Moorthy, 30, died after plunging from Taft Point, a popular hiking destination, the Fresno Bee reported, citing park officials.

The husband and wife were citizens of India who were living in the U.S., according to the Bee. Cisco India said Viswanath was a software engineer at the company’s San Jose headquarters.

Viswanath’s brother, Jishnu Viswanath, told the Associated Press the couple had set up a tripod-mounted camera near the ledge of Taft Point on the evening of Oct. 23.


Park visitors saw the camera the next morning and alerted rangers, who “used high-powered binoculars to find them and used helicopters to airlift the bodies,” he said.

The couple ran a travel blog called Holidays and Happily Ever Afters, which chronicled their adventures in scenic spots around the world, and ran an Instagram account with the same name that had more than 12,000 followers.

On the blog, Moorthy, who had pink hair, described herself as “a mermaid-haired wanderess who loves to waltz with words” and Viswanath as “Captain Creative who wows me and everyone with his phantasmagoric photographic skills.” The couple, she wrote, had been “diagnosed with a ‘curious case of interminable travel bug.’”

In March, Moorthy posted a photo of herself on Instagram, sitting on a cliff at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in a shirt that said “Sunset Chaser.” In the caption, she wrote about the dangers of taking dramatic “daredevilry” photos for likes on social media.


“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???” Moorthy wrote. “Is our life just worth one photo?”

Sean Matteson, a Yosemite visitor from Oakland, said he noticed Moorthy around sunset at Taft Point, saying she stood out because of her bright pink hair.

“She was very close to the edge, but it looked like she was enjoying herself,” Matteson said. “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 he captured pictures of Moorthy in the background of two photos he snapped of himself and his girlfriend.

The National Park Service is investigating how the pair fell. Their bodies were discovered Thursday about 800 feet below Taft Point.

“This recovery operation involved park rangers using technical climbing and rappelling techniques, in addition to helicopter support from the California Highway Patrol,” the park service wrote in a statement.

The College of Engineering, Chengannur, in India wrote in a Facebook post that the couple were alumni of a computer science and engineering program.

“Our hearts go out to the friends and family members of this lovely couple,” the college wrote. “May their souls rest in peace.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Twitter: @haileybranson


1:50 p.m.: This article was updated with reports from family members and comments from a witness.

This article was originally published at 8:55 p.m. Oct. 29.

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