A Connecticut woman was sentenced to a week behind bars — and must pay more than $2,000 in fines — after she walked across a thermal area in Yellowstone National Park, federal prosecutors said this week.
Madeline S. Casey, 26, of New Hartford, was charged with walking off the boardwalk and stepping onto thermal ground as she made her way up to a thermal pool and geyser at Norris Geyser Basin, according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming.
She was with two other people during the excursion, one of whom also stepped onto the thermal ground, prosecutors said.
Multiple concerned bystanders took photos of the trespassers in the area — which is well-marked with signs warning people to stay on the boardwalk.
Casey was ordered spend seven days in jail, as well as pay a $1,000 fine, $40 in fees and a $1,000 community service payment to the Yellowstone Forever Geological Resource Fund during an Aug. 18 appearance in front of Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carmon in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, according to the release.
“For those who lack a natural ability to appreciate the dangerousness of crusty and unstable ground, boiling water, and scalding mud, the National Park Service does a darn good job of warning them to stay on the boardwalk and trial in thermal areas,” Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray, of the District of Wyoming, said in a statement.
“Yet there will always be those like Ms. Casey who don’t get it,” he said. “Although a criminal prosecution and jail time may seem harsh, it’s better than spending time in a hospital’s burn unit.”
Since 1870, more than 20 people have died of burns after entering or falling into Yellowstone’s hot springs, The Billings Gazette reported.
In one 2016 incident, an Oregon man ventured off-trail and attempted to soak in a pool with a later-recorded temperature of 212 degrees, according to the report.
The man’s body had already dissolved into the scorching, acidic water by the time a recovery team returned the next day, the outlet reported.
“Boardwalks in geyser basins protect visitors and delicate thermal formations,” Yellowstone National Park Public Affairs Officer Morgan Warthin said in a statement. “The ground is fragile and thin and scalding water just below the surface can cause severe or fatal burns.”