Your latest entry on the Yellowstone National Park crime blotter: a Connecticut woman was sentenced to seven days in jail and $2,040 for walking on Norris Geyser Basin thermal ground.
Madeline S. Casey of New Hartford, Connecticut was sentenced by Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in U.S. District Court in Mammoth Hot Springs. Besides seven days in jail, she was 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 26-year-old Casey appeared in court on August 18, 2021.
Casey was with two other people as they made their way up to a thermal pool and geyser at Norris Geyser Basin. She and one other person got off the boardwalk and were walking on thermal ground. Multiple other people were concerned and took photos and videos of the three. Norris Geyser Basin is an area well marked with signs and warnings to stay on the boardwalk.
“Boardwalks in geyser basins protect visitors and delicate thermal formations,” said Yellowstone National Park Public Affairs Officer Morgan Warthin in a press statement. “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 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,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray in a press statement. “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.”
This case was handled by Yellowstone National Park law enforcement officers and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Hambrick.
Photo of a busy boardwalk at Norris Geyser Basin courtesy NPS.