YOSEMITE, Calif -- Family friend Romina Kiryakous, among a group of people who attended a church service in Ceres, said the three people's families were grief-stricken but hopeful, the paper said.
"They're not coping well," she told the Bee. "This is out of their control. There is nothing we can do now."
The paper said many at the service cried, while others appeared to be in shock.
The victims, all California residents, have been identified as Hormiz David, 22, of Modesto; Ramina Badal, 21, of Manteca; and Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock.
The park service said Wednesday that the trio, who climbed over a guardrail, fell into the raging Merced River and plunged over 317-foot Vernal Fall, were presumed dead.
However, at the Wednesday night service, people were trying to remain positive, the Sacramento Bee reported.
"She was a nursing student," Tanya Badal said of her sister Ramina, but then corrected herself to say "She is a nursing student."
"With God all things are possible," she added, quoting a passage from the Bible.
Park spokesman Scott Gediman told the Bee that one of the three people had "slipped, and there was a chain reaction as the other two tried to save the person who slipped," the Bee reported.
The paper said Ramina was attending the University of San Francisco, and Ninos Yacoub was a chemistry student at California State University, Stanislaus. David was reported to be studying music at Modesto Junior College.
This is not the first time someone has fallen in the area. Ten people have died in and around the waterfall over the past decade.
In July 2005, a 24-year-old man fell down Vernal Fall to his death after losing his balance.
The snow-melt swollen rivers and lakes have claimed six lives in Yosemite National Park this year, including Tuesday's incident, the park service said.
Two hikers drowned in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on June 29, 2011, and a hiker slipped and fell into the Merced River on the Mist Trail on May 13, 2011.
Reuters contributed to this report.