Friday 23 March 2018

Man dies after falling into Yellowstone hot spring

The Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park, where rangers called off the search for a man who fell into a hot spring (AP)
The Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park, where rangers called off the search for a man who fell into a hot spring (AP)

A man has died after falling into an acidic hot spring at Yellowstone National Park.

Rangers suspended their attempts to recover the body of Colin Nathaniel Scott, 23, of Portland, Oregon.

"They were able to recover a few personal effects," park spokeswoman Charissa Reid said. "There were no remains left to recover."

Mr Scott had wandered from a designated boardwalk when he fell, in the latest in a string of incidents raising concerns over visitor behaviour.

He was with his sister and had travelled about 225 yards off the boardwalk on Tuesday when he slipped and fell into the hot spring in the Norris Geyser Basin, park officials said.

After his sister reported the fall, rangers navigated over the highly-fragile crust of the geyser basin to try to recover his body.

Ms Reid said they halted the effort on Wednesday "due to the extreme nature and futility of it all" - referring to the high temperature and acidic nature of the spring.

The death occurred in one of the hottest and most volatile areas of Yellowstone.

It follows high-profile incidents at the rugged park in which tourists got too close to wildlife or went off designated pathways onto unique landmarks, sometimes leading to injuries.

"It's sort of dumb, if I could be so blunt, to walk off the boardwalks not knowing what you're doing," said Kenneth Sims, a University of Wyoming geology professor and member of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Mr S cott previously worked as a volunteer at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve in Oregon, said Mary Loftin, a manager at the Hillsboro, Oregon, parks and recreation department.

She said that he worked there for about 20 months fielding questions from visitors, and his stint ended last year.

"A very nice young man a bright spirit," Ms Loftin said.

The basin is a popular attraction in the nation's first national park, which received a record 4.1 million visitors last year. Water temperatures there can reach 93C (199F), the boiling point for water at the park's high elevation.

At least 22 people are known to have died from hot spring-related injuries in and around Yellowstone since 1890, park officials said.

Most of the deaths have been accidents, although at least two people had been trying to swim in a hot spring, according to park historian Lee Whittlesey, author of the book Death In Yellowstone.

Posted signs warn visitors to keep to boardwalks and trails in thermal areas, which feature boiling pools, geysers that can blast hundreds of feet into the air and toxic gases.

The crust that makes up the ground in parts of Yellowstone is formed when minerals underground are dissolved by the high-temperature water, then redeposited on or near the surface.

Other recent tourist incidents at Yellowstone include a 13-year-old boy who got burned on Saturday when his father, who had been carrying him, slipped into a different hot spring.

In May, a Canadian film crew was accused of leaving an established boardwalk and stepping into a geothermal area where they snapped photos and took video of themselves.

Also last month, another Canadian man loaded a bison calf into his vehicle because he thought it was cold. The calf later had to be euthanised because it could not be reunited with its herd.

Press Association

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