Campers Killed by Falling Tree Branch in Yosemite National Park ID'd as Orange County Teens

The two young campers who were killed when a limb from an oak tree broke off and fell on their tent in Yosemite National Park were identified Monday as Orange County teenagers.

Both boys, identified as Dragon Kim and Justin Lee, were students at the Tustin Unified School District, which serves about 24,000 students living in Tustin and portions of Irvine, Santa Aba and unincorporated North Tustin.

“It’s a tragic loss,” District spokesperson Mark Eliot said. “Our hearts go out to the families during this difficult time.”

Tustin Unified will provide grief counselors as registration starts next week at Pioneer Middle and Beckman High, where many of the boys’ former classmates now go to school, Eliot said.

Both teens attended Pioneer Middle School. Kim was going to be a sophomore at the Orange County School of the Arts this year and Lee an incoming freshman.

Yosemite Park officials said in a statement that the tree fell on the boys' tent at 5 a.m. Friday. By the time park rangers arrived, it was already too late. "Our thoughts are with the families as they grieve this tragedy," park Superintendent Don Neubacher said.

Students who knew the two teens tweeted they were in shock after hearing the news. Some of them shared their favorite memories of the two.

A limb from an oak tree fell on a popular part of Yosemite Valley early Friday, killing two young campers who were sleeping in a tent, according to Yosemite National Park officials. Ian Cull reports.
While officials look into why a tree limb failed in Yosemite National Park, arborists say our prolonged drought is causing trouble for established trees. Jean Elle reports.

A wildland firefighter was killed near Lake Tahoe earlier this month, battling the Sierra Fire, after a tree fell on him.  A second firefighter was treated for injuries during the same incident.

In July 2013, a 21-year-old camp counselor at Camp Tawonga near Yosemite died after a tree fell on her. Three others were injured. In May 2015, legal documents obtained by NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit showed camp leaders had been warned about the tree for years.

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