Yellowstone Entrances Reopen

People head down the boardwalk at the Norris Geyser Basin on June 1, 2020, in Yellowstone National Park.

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A Connecticut woman has been sentenced to seven days in jail and to pay more than $2,000 in fines and fees for walking on a thermal area in Yellowstone National Park.

Madeline S. Casey, 26, was with two other people in the Norris Geyser Basin area near the northwest corner of the park, according to a Wednesday news release from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Wyoming district. She and another person left the boardwalk and walked on the thermal ground. Onlookers took pictures and videos of Casey and the people she was with.

“Boardwalks in geyser basins protect visitors and delicate thermal formations,” said park spokesperson Morgan Warthin in the news release. “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.”

At least one of those deaths Warthin mentioned happened on the Norris Geyser Basin area where Casey was walking. A 23-year-old Oregon man fell into a boiling hot spring while walking on the thermal area and looking for a thermal pool to illegally soak in.

The news release says that the area Casey left the boardwalk in was clearly marked with signs telling visitors to stay on the boardwalk and on clearly marked paths.

“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,” said acting United States Attorney Bob Murray in the release. “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.”

Casey appeared in front of Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs last Wednesday for sentencing.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hambrick and was handled by Yellowstone National Park law enforcement officers.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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