A large rock slide in Yosemite National Park ignited chaos early today, crushing wooden cabins and knocking down trees as dozens scrambled for cover, witnesses said.
Tom Trujillo, of New Milford, Conn., was attending photography classes at Yosemite Institute when the rock slide happened about 7 a.m.
"Trees were crushed all over the place," said Trujillo over the sound of a hovering search helicopter. "A couple of kids, 5th or 6th graders, were stumbling out of the area. I tried to picked them up, tried to get them out as fast as I could."
Trujillo said he helped one boy, with blood running down his forehead and back, get to safety and find his mother.
"It was a really big mess," Trujillo said. "Tents were crushed, trees were knocked down, hard cabins were moved out of their positions, with bounders blocking their doorway."
Another photography student, Rena McClain, a nurse from Dover, Del., told the Associated Press in a telephone interview she had her back to granite face when she heard what sounded like a booming thunder clap. She whipped around and saw a giant cloud of rock and dust coming down.
"People were starting to yell 'run, run' and kids started to scream," said McClain.
As the dust settled, shaken teachers and chaperones, who were visiting the park with classes, gathered groups of high school students and tried to get head counts.
"The kids were crying," said McClain. "I tried to comfort them. I'm a nurse, my immediate response was 'what can I try to do to help."'
The rock slide was the second in as many days. Boulders were blocking the doorways to some cabins in Curry Village.
Ranger Erik Skindrud told KCRA-TV that officials have gone to the area to evaluate the impact of the slide.
There was another rock slide in the same area near Curry Village, on the east side of the park, on Tuesday afternoon. No one was injured in that slide. Curry Village includes visitor lodging, stores and restaurants.
In 1996, a rock slide in the same area sent as much as 162,000 tons of rock plummeting more than 2,000 feet, killing one visitor and felling 500 trees.