I've been refraining from saying anything else from my initial post as I don't want this thread to devolve since there have been many good points, reflections, and sympathies shared. I had a PM conversation with a friend about my response and feel I probably should share the rationale behind my initial emotional reaction instead of leaving it as one of my typical blunt posts:
For some reason, deaths at Vernal/Nevada Falls have always touched a sensitive spot with me. The last time I was in Yosemite was 2009 and mere days after completing the Half Dome cables route, which goes up and around Vernal Falls, two people who nearly drowned in Emerald Pool on the same day. I remember reading eyewitness accounts about the 3 killed from going over the falls two years ago and how someone in their group held their terrified, screaming 6-year old daughter over the railing prior to the tragedy and how the third person was killed trying to save the other two caught in the current.
Am I sad to hear someone died in an accident? Yes, as is the case in any similar situation, but my empathy only goes so far when the decision leading to the accident was a direct result of making a knowingly illicit decision by NPS regulations when it is well-signed and documented to be a poor choice. To me, it's no different than reading about someone who decided to drink-and-drive and ended up killing themselves when they wrapped their car around a telephone poll. There is a chasm-sized difference between deaths from a judgement call gone wrong (the Loveland avalanche) or unfortunate event (AZ climber & bees, Hagerman) and ones a direct result of ignoring regulations
(Vernal Falls, DUI, etc) for safety.
In the case where I make a stupid decision, please by all means call me on it; you're probably doing me a favor.
Peter Aitchison on the risks of rock climbing and mountaineering: "That's life, isn't it? We think the challenge and satisfaction you get from doing this is worth the risks."
"Respect the mountain. Train hard. Hope you can sneak up when it isn't looking."
"The mind is always worried about consequences, but the heart knows no fear. The heart just does what it wants."