Travel bloggers who plunged 800ft to their deaths while taking selfie at Yosemite were drunk, autopsy reveals
An Instagram travel blogger couple who fell 800 feet to their deaths after falling off Yosemite's scenic Taft Point in October 2018 was reportedly drunk at the time. A toxicology report from the Stanislaus County Coroner's Office stated that 30-year-old Meenakshi Moorthy and 29-year-old Vishnu Viswanath were "intoxicated with ethyl alcohol prior to death."
According to the Daily Mail, tests found their bodies had the same elements used in common alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, and hard liquor, and there were no other drugs in their systems. However, it is unclear how much alcohol they had consumed at the time, with an autopsy report stating the couple "died of multiple injuries to the head, neck, chest, and abdomen, sustained by a fall from a mountain."
View this post on Instagram
Viswanath's brother, Jishnu, said the couple — engineering students from India who were living and working in the Bay Area in California, and who also ran a travel blog with over 25,000 followers on the side — had died while taking a selfie after setting up their tripod near the steep ledge just before they fell.
Yosemite officials said the pair fell off Taft Point, a scenic overlook 3,500 feet above Yosemite Valley on October 25, with rangers alerted to the incident after visitors to the park the next morning found the camera on the ledge.
Officials then used high-powered binoculars to assist them in the search and eventually found their bodies 800 feet down the side of a steep cliff from Taft Point, Mercury News reported. Rangers subsequently hiked and rappelled down the cliff to recover their bodies and then airlifted them with the help of a helicopter from the California Highway Patrol. Their funerals were conducted in the US because their bodies were in no condition to be transported back to India.
Jishnu paid tribute to the couple in a statement, saying, "Vishnu was a very kind soul always helped others, he was a perfect son, a perfect husband and a perfect brother. He was an amazing person always full of energy like his wife Meenakshi. Both of them liked to travel, loved adventure and explore the world. They completed each other."
"They were so much in love with each other, I never saw anyone who loved each other more than them," he continued. " They loved adventure, they did what made them happy, and they completed their life journey by doing what they enjoyed most. We miss them."
View this post on Instagram
While the cause of their death was published in the autopsy report, it is still not known how they fell off the cliff. Speaking about the incident at the time, a Yosemite spokeswoman said, "We still don’t have any clear idea exactly what happened. We are still trying to piece it together."
The Mail reports that Moorthy regularly spoke about her struggles with anxiety and depression on several of her Instagram posts. In one, where she apologized to followers for not posting for a long time, she had written, "Between battling the tightening tentacles of depression and blustering in the tempest of moving madness, I am afraid social media is taking a back seat??"
In another post in April 2018, she wrote of how she had been "buried in a blanket for weeks" and "hurting in a whirl of hopeless dark thoughts." She added she had been "paralyzed with anxiety and that she was questioning if her existence was "helping my loved ones or harming" and that "no one can figure out what is wrong with me."