Jason D. Wicks, 49, of Hillman, Michigan, was arraigned in federal court on Wednesday, Aug. 23, facing criminal charges of off-trail travel in a Yellowstone National Park thermal area. Additionally, Wicks was allegedly under the influence of alcohol or drugs “to the degree he was a danger to himself or others,” according to a release.
Officials said Wick was released from custody on the condition that he is banned from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks until charges are resolved.
Yellowstone National Park officials said that the ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin and that there is scalding water just below the surface. Officials said the scalding water in hot springs can cause severe or fatal burns.
More than 20 people have reportedly died from burns suffered after they entered or fell into Yellowstone’s hot springs.
“Everyone must remain on boardwalks and trails and exercise extreme caution around Yellowstone’s thermal features,” officials said.
Here is a list of rules regarding Yellowstone’s thermal areas, according to the National Park Service:
- Always walk on boardwalks and designated trails. Keep children close and do not let them run on boardwalks.
- Do not touch thermal features or runoff.
- Swimming or soaking in hot springs is prohibited.
- Pets are prohibited in thermal areas.
- Do not throw objects into hot springs or other hydrothermal features.
- Toxic gases may accumulate to dangerous levels in some hydrothermal areas. If you begin to feel sick while exploring one of our geyser basins, leave the area immediately.
This incident remains under investigation. A trial date has not been set at this time.