In hot water: Woman sentenced to jail for walking off Yellowstone trail

National

People exploring the sights in Norris Geyser Basin (NPS / Jacob W. Frank)

YELLOWSTONE, Wyo. (ABC4) – A Connecticut woman will spend some time behind bars after walking off the boardwalk path at Yellowstone National Park. She also owes $2,040 in fines, fees, and payments to the park’s resource fund.

Officials say 26-year-old Madeline S. Casey of New Hartford, Conn., was with two other people as they made their way up to a thermal pool and geyser at Norris Geyser Basin. She and another person stepped off of the boardwalk and walked on the thermal ground.

Other park visitors were concerned about what they were seeing and capture pictures and videos. Yellowstone rangers say Norris Geyser Basin is a well-marked area warning visitors to stay on the boardwalk.

“Boardwalks in geyser basins protect visitors and delicate thermal formations,” said Yellowstone National Park Public Affairs Officer Morgan Warthin. “The ground is fragile and thin and scalding water just below the surface can cause severe or fatal burns. More than 20 people have died from burns suffered after they entered or fell into Yellowstone’s hot springs.”

For her actions, a federal judge sentenced Casey to seven days in jail. She must also pay a $1,000 fine, $40 in fees, and a $1,000 community service payment to the Yellowstone Forever Geological Resource Fund.

“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 trail in thermal areas,” says Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray. “Yet there will always be those like Ms. Casey who don’t get it. Although a criminal prosecution and jailtime may seem harsh, it’s better than spending time in a hospital’s burn unit.”

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