New details have emerged regarding the four men witnessed walking on Grand Prismatic Spring.
We previously reported that, over the weekend, four men had been observed stepping off the boardwalk to take pictures of the spring, the largest in North America, and the centerpiece of Midway Geyser Basin. We also reported that the men had come forward as employees of High On Life SundayFundayz, a Canadian clothing/lifestyle company, after they posted (and subsequently removed) evidence of their escapades.
The company posted a formal apology on Facebook, pledging to donate money to Yellowstone—in exchange for posting stories about the Park using their suggested hashtag, with donations capped at $5000. They later walked this back, saying they would donate $5000 regardless.
A criminal complaint has been filed against three of the four men.
Now, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle is reporting more information has surfaced regarding the incident:
Federal warrants were issued for Charles Ryker Gamble, Alexey Andriyovych Lyakh and Justis Cooper Price-Brown for walking off-boardwalk and creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition at Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone spokeswoman Charissa Reid said that as of Tuesday afternoon the men had not been arrested. She said the investigation is ongoing.
A fourth member of the group — Parker Heuser — was not issued an arrest warrant. Reid said that was because park law enforcement found that he had been using a different name on the Internet than what was on his driver’s license.
The violations were brought to the attention of park officials after videos and photos of the men walking off-boardwalk were posted online on Saturday. A criminal complaint filed in federal court says a witness to the incident provided park law enforcement with 26 photos and a 22-second video of the men illegally off-trail, taking photos of themselves and reaching into the spring.
“The nearest boardwalk is approximately 25 yards from where they are located,” the document says.
According to the Chronicle, the video posted by the group (it has since been made private, in light of backlash against the company for their actions) depicted various behavior besides their walk on Grand Prismatic. Reportedly, the video also depicts a Yellowstone ranger warning the group as one man strips naked and goes running on a frozen lake.
Further, this is not the first brush the four have had with park rangers; the complaint also mentions an incident that happened in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.
Fines and Permits
According to Rachel Cudmore, who works at the Yellowstone National Park and spoke with the Chronicle via email, the High On Life men filed no permit prior to their escapades. Indeed, given the nature of their visit (to promote their business ethos with a well-documented “pleasure trip”) they would have needed a commercial film permit. From the Chronicle:
“Typically, anyone that is filming or photographing for reasons other than personal enjoyment should contact the Film Office to inquire about a special use permit for these activities,” Cudmore said.
Filming without a permit was not one of the charges listed in the criminal complaint filed Tuesday, though Reid said it was possible that charge could arise later on.
Cudmore said filming without a permit was a misdemeanor crime with a maximum prison term of six months and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Of course, even if the group had obtained a permit to film in thermal basins, they would not have been permitted off the boardwalk.
As of writing, there is no word whether the men involved are facing any other charges besides failure to file a commercial filming permit.
UPDATE: Yellowstone officials have released more information regarding the warrants and what the men are charged with:
Each of the three individuals are charged with the following:
36 C.F.R. § 7.13 (j) Yellowstone National Park: Travel on Trails; foot travel in all thermal areas and within the Yellowstone Canyon between the Upper Falls and Inspiration Point must be confined to boardwalks or trails that are maintained for such travel and are marked by official signs
36 C.F.R. § 2.34(a)(4)Creates or maintains a hazardous or physically offensive condition.
The Park added that scientists are assessing the spring to see whether Grand Prismatic Spring and “adjoining geothermal resources” were damaged.
SECOND UPDATE: according to the Daily Journal, citing the Associated Press, Yellowstone rangers have been unable to contact or locate the High On Life men. Yellowstone spokeswoman Charissa Reid has said the men may have fled to Canada. The company has not been responsive via social media since the incident. The AP reached out to a spokesperson for the Wyoming Attorney General’s office, who was unavailable for comment.
THIRD UPDATE: The Wyoning Attorney General’s Office has confirmed they will not likely try to extradite the four High On Life men.
FOURTH UPDATE: A Yellowstone ranger named Alec Chapman has identified the fourth man seen walking on Grand Prismatic Spring, according to K2 Radio. The fourth man (Hamish McNab Campbell Cross) had previously been misidentified because his social media name did not match up with his legal one. From K2 Radio:
Chapman was able to identify Cross through other photos and determined he entered the United States on a New Zealand passport.
Cross was charged on Thursday, and the complaint was unsealed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman on Monday.
The alleged crimes are misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail and $5,000 fines.