Law enforcement authorities are investigating a human foot that was found floating in a hot spring in the southern part of the park, Yellowstone National Park officials announced on Thursday.
The discovery of the foot and a shoe by a Yellowstone employee on Tuesday led to the temporary closure of the Abyss Pool near the West Thumb Geyser Basin, according to Morgan Warthin, public affairs officer for Yellowstone National Park.
Warthin did not release any further information on the investigation; however, a Montana resident was in the area and told Cowboy State Daily that she was not allowed into the geyser basin because of the law enforcement activity.
Jen Mignard, a resident of Shepherd, Montana, was coincidentally at the basin to be interviewed by VICE media for a separate story when the area was closed to the public.
“We knew something bad had happened,” Mignard, told Cowboy State Daily.
“It was such an abnormal sight to see in the park,” she said. “There was a lot of fear and apprehension that something was seriously wrong. It was a dark feeling.”
Mignard said the parking lot was empty except for two passenger cars.
She said yellow police tape stretched the entire length of the parking lot and beyond and there were numerous law enforcement vehicles in the area.
“The police tape actually extended through the trees all the way along the length of the geyser basin,” she said.
Mignard also spotted a helicopter flying to the area earlier when she was eating lunch at the general store at Old Faithful.
“Helicopters don’t fly here,” she said. “There were too many coincidences. Something major was happening.”
Abyss Pool is 53 feet deep and the temperature is about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Associated Press.
Scaldings and deaths are not uncommon in Yellowstone National Park.
The most recent scalding occurred in September 2021, when a 19-year-old teen from Rhode Island jumped off of a boardwalk to save her dog that had wandered into the scalding hydrothermal pits at Old Faithful.
The teen escaped with only second- and third-degree burns on 5% of her body and returned home after a few months at a burn center in Idaho.
The most recent death in a hot spring was in 2016 when a 23-year-old man from Portland, Oregon, slipped and fell near Porkchop Geyser. His body was never recovered as it was likely dissolved.