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Woman sentenced for walking on Yellowstone thermal area

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The following is a news release from Yellowstone National Park on Thursday.

Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray announced today that Madeline S. Casey, age 26, of New Hartford, Connecticut, was sentenced to seven days in jail for walking on thermal ground at Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. In addition, 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. Casey appeared in front of Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming on August 18, 2021, for sentencing.

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. “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. “Yet there will always be those like Ms. Casey who don’t get it. Although a criminal prosecution and jail time 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.

For questions relating to Yellowstone National Park, please contact the Public Affairs Office at 307-344-2015 or yell_public_affairs@nps.gov.

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