Prosecutor in Yellowstone Case: Jail Is 'Better Than a Burn Unit'

Tourist sentenced to 7 days for walking on thermal feature
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2021 9:22 AM CDT
Woman Gets Week in Jail for Walking on Yellowstone Feature
Visitors walk on the boardwalk in the Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.   (Jim Peaco/National Park Service via AP)

Leaving the boardwalk in Yellowstone National Park's thermal areas can get you killed—or, if you survive, fined and jailed. A 26-year-old Connecticut woman who walked directly on thermal features during a visit to the Wyoming park last month has been sentenced to a week in jail, plus $2,040 in fines and fees, CNN reports. "Although a criminal prosecution and jail time may seem harsh, it’s better than spending time in a hospital’s burn unit," Acting US Attorney Bob Murray said in a statement. The park says the scalding water below the thin ground in the area can cause severe burns. At least 20 people have died in Yellowstone's hot springs including a man who was dissolved after slipping into a pool 225 yards from the boardwalk in 2016.

"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,” Murray said, per the Powell Tribune. Madeline Casey, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense of foot travel in a thermal area, was ordered to serve the week in jail before Jan. 31 next year. She has been banned from the park for two years. (Last year, an Idaho man was fined and banned from the park after cooking chickens in a hot spring.)

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