Crowded boardwalk in the Lower Geyser Basin

A crowded boardwalk in the Lower Geyser Basin is seen in this August 2015 photo. A 21-year-old Xanterra employee from North Carolina was badly hurt after falling into a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin on Tuesday.

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A 21-year-old North Carolina man suffered severe burns after falling into a hot spring late Tuesday in Yellowstone National Park.

The National Park Service said Gervais Dylan Gatete of Raleigh, North Carolina, fell at the Lower Geyser Basin off of Fountain Flat Drive, just north of Old Faithful. Gatete is an employee of Xanterra Parks and Resorts.

Gatete was with seven other people when he fell. The group tried to move Gatete by car and flagged down a ranger near Seven Mile Bridge on the West Entrance Road just before midnight.

Park staff provided medical help and got Gatete into an ambulance and to the airport in West Yellowstone for flight to a hospital.

The Park Service said it’s not clear exactly where and how the incident happened. An investigation is ongoing.

Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk emphasized that the park’s thermal features are dangerous. The ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin, and there is scalding water just below the surface.

“We continually stress that people must stay on trails and boardwalks in geyser basins, not only to protect resources, but for their own safety,” he said in a written statement.

The park said this is the first serious injury in a thermal area this year. Last June, a man left the boardwalk and died after slipping into a hot spring in Norris Geyser Basin. In August 2000, one person died and two people received severe burns from falling into a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin.

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