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Fatal Yosemite Falls Fallout: Who Should Be Responsible for Your Safety?

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A Los Angeles Times opinion piece published today puts for the query: "Should visitors have to sign a liability waiver before entering [Yosemite National Park]?"

The question comes just a few days after three hikers fell to their deaths after stepping past a barrier at a waterfall in the park.

Last week, the families of those three hikers "hired a consultant to assess whether safety measures were adequate," reports L.A. Now. The park has posted signs indicating the danger of crossing the metal barriers, but some believe that is not enough of a deterrent.

In a recent post called "Clear and present danger," local blogger Alissa Walker wrote that the signs in the park are a "design challenge," and the problem of putting such warnings in such a beautiful and natural space. Signs may be--and are already proving--to be of no consequence to some. Walker, having traveled to the park recently herself, observes:

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But what we quickly realized is what happens with [the families who have hired a consultant] and a new barrier doesn’t really matter—based on what we witnessed this week in the park, no matter what the park chooses to construct, people always find a way over. It was pretty shocking to see, and it happened almost everywhere we went. We’d stand there in awe at the top of a waterfall, marveling at this relentless pile driver of nature. Then would watch in horror as people around us climbed over, around, through the barriers and made their way closer to the churning water.

The L.A. Times, however, is wondering not if there should be more signs, but if signing something would be the deterrent. "Have we reached the point where visitors should sign a liability waiver?" they ask.

Meanwhile, Walker wonders: "How can we better communicate to people the danger and consequences of their actions—without ruining the experience for others? Signage is obviously not cutting it. But will a monstrous barrier even help?"

It seems the two approaches here put the onus on different parties, which make us wonder: When it comes to putting yourself in a dangerous situation, who is accountable for your safety: You or the location?