A Connecticut woman was sentenced to seven days in prison for walking on the thermal grounds of Yellowstone National Park, an act authorities labeled as extremely dangerous.
The woman, Madeline Casey, 26, was convicted on Aug. 18, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming. According to court records, she was charged with traveling in the thermal areas and disorderly conduct.
Ms. Casey and two others with her, who were not identified in the statement, made their way to a thermal pool and geyser in Norris Geyser Basin, one of the largest thermal areas in Yellowstone, after leaving the marked boardwalk during a visit last year. . month, authorities said.
Concerned onlookers took photos and videos of the three people as they walked across the thermal ground, the statement said.
“The ground is fragile and thin, and boiling water just below the surface can cause severe or fatal burns,” said Morgan Warthin, a spokeswoman for Yellowstone National Park. “More than 20 people have died from burns after entering or falling into Yellowstone hot springs.”
Authorities said the park is doing a “damned good job” warning people to stay on the boardwalk and trails in thermal areas and educating them about the unstable ground, boiling water and boiling mud.
“Still, there will always be people like Ms. Casey who don’t understand,” Bob Murray, the acting US attorney, said in the statement. “While a criminal charge and jail time may seem tough, it’s better than spending time in a hospital burn department.”
A woman visited Yellowstone last year while it was closed due to the pandemic and suffered severe burns when she fell into a hot spring or steam vent while taking photos, The Associated Press reported.
The thermal features of the park include hot springs, geysers, steam vents, and mud pools. Last fall, The AP reported, a man walking off a boardwalk fell into a hot spring and also suffered severe burns. In 2016, a 23-year-old man fell into an acidic mud pot and died.
A man who was ticketed for walking in a thermal area around the same time as Ms. Casey, and whose fine was later dismissed, said Friday he had not seen signs warning people not to enter the thermal area because they were too low in the water. the ground.
“I just wanted to see where the steam was rising and take a picture,” said the man, Floyd K. Parham. “Once I got the photo, I went back to my truck, but they said I went through the thermal area.”
According to the National Park Service website, the Norris Geyser Basin is Yellowstone’s hottest and oldest thermal area. There is some evidence that Norris has had thermal features for at least 115,000 years, and very few of them are below the boiling point of water.
A lawyer for Ms. Casey, Ryan Wright, declined to comment Friday. A message left for Ms. Casey through her attorney went unanswered Friday.
In addition to the jail term, Ms. Casey ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, $1,000 community service to the Yellowstone Forever Geological Resource Fund, and $40 in fees.
It was not immediately clear why Ms. Casey was singled out by federal prosecutors in the statement. It was also unclear whether charges had been filed against the two others who were with her.
Messages sent to Yellowstone and the US Attorney’s Office on Friday were not immediately returned.