In emoji-filled posts on their travel blog, Holidays and Happily Ever Afters, Vishnu Viswanath and Meenakshi Moorthy documented their trips across the US and around the world. On Instagram, where the software engineer couple had over 15,000 followers, Moorthy’s distinctive pink hair stood out against the scenic backdrops of the mountains and cliffs they climbed.
But on Oct. 25, the couple’s love for travel ended in tragedy, when they fell off a cliff in California’s Yosemite National Park. Known as Taft Point, the popular viewing point offered a stunning sight of the Yosemite Valley and Yosemite Falls. Just the week before, it had been captured in a photograph of a couple mid-proposal that went viral around the world.
Viswanath and Moorthy, aged 29 and 30, respectively, had met while studying at the College of Engineering Chengannur in Kerala, India. They married in 2014, and later moved to the US, where they lived in New York. Viswanath had reportedly recently taken a new job in Silicon Valley, and the couple were on a road trip to visit the sights in California when the incident occurred. Park authorities found their bodies under Taft Point, a 3,000-foot drop, though they still don’t know what went wrong, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
But in several of the couple’s posts on Instagram, they had often warned about the dangers of living (and taking photos) on the edge. Earlier this year, in a caption to a photo from atop the North Rim of the Grand Canyon the couple mentioned the limits of #doitforthegram, urging fellow travellers and Instagrammers to be careful.
On March 28, Moorthy wrote:
A lot of us including yours truly is a fan of daredevilry attempts of standing at the edge of cliffs ⛰and skyscrapers🌆, but did you know that wind gusts can be FATAL??? ☠️ Is our life just worth one photo?
In 2017, in another photo of the Grand Canyon, the couple had posted another warning, asking followers to be careful when standing at the edges of canyons or mountains and to be aware that wind gusts can be dangerous.
Their tragedy comes after several similar incidents of travellers falling to their deaths, some while taking selfies, even at Yosemite National Park itself. So far this year, 10 people have died in the park, six of whom had fallen.
The rise of selfie deaths is one of the troubling results of the rampant pressure to post the perfect photo on social media. And it’s especially dire in India, which held the dreadful distinction of recording the most selfie deaths in the world in 2016.