Connecticut Woman Jailed For Walking on Geyser at Yellowstone

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A woman from Connecticut was sentenced on Wednesday to seven days in jail for walking off the boardwalks and onto geothermal grounds in Yellowstone National Park.

Madeline Casey, of New Hartford, was immediately taken into custody and held at the Yellowstone jail — one of only two national parks with its own jail — after the July incident.

Leaving the designated walkways in Yellowstone is a federal crime and justice officials don’t wince about sentencing.

“Although a criminal prosecution and jailtime may seem harsh, it’s better than spending time in a hospital’s burn unit,” Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray said.

No hyperbole in that statement.

More than 20 people have died after leaving the boardwalk and walking on thermal ground.

As the Justice Department explained in a statement, the ground is fragile and thin and scalding water just below the surface can cause severe or fatal burns.

In some cases, victims have never been found as the scalding water dissolved their bodies.

In the book Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park, author Lee Whittlesey said the pools are “so astringent that a dip in one would be like a swim in battery acid.”

Casey was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, $40 in fees, and a $1,000 community service payment to the Yellowstone Forever Geological Resource Fund.

The U.S. Attorney added a Darwinian-scolding as well.

“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,” Murray said.  “Yet there will always be those like Ms. Casey who don’t get it.”

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