YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Park rangers on Wednesday confirmed the death of an Oregon man who fell into a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park, but they could not immediately recover the body from a geyser basin where boiling water flows beneath a fragile rock crust.
Colin Nathaniel Scott, 23, of Portland, was with his sister and had traveled about 225 yards off the boardwalk when he fell into the hot spring near Pork Chop Geyser, park officials said.
Scott’s death occurred in one of the hottest and most volatile areas of Yellowstone. It follows several high-profile incidents at the rugged park, where tourists went off designated pathways onto unique landmarks, sometimes leading to injuries, or got too close to wildlife.
The safety of park personnel was a priority during the efforts to remove Scott’s body from the hot spring in Norris Geyser Basin, officials said. Preventing damage to the geyser basin also was a concern.
“It’s very fragile rock and can be thin as a skiff of ice,” park spokeswoman Charissa Reid said.
The basin is a popular attraction in the nation’s first national park, which received a record 4.1 million visitors last year. Water temperatures there can reach 199 degrees, the boiling point for water at the park’s high elevation.
At least 21 people are known to have died from hot spring-related injuries in and around Yellowstone, according to park historian Lee Whittlesey, author of “Death in Yellowstone.” Most of the deaths have been accidents, although at least two people had been trying to swim in a spring, he said.
Posted signs warn visitors to keep to boardwalks and trails in thermal areas, which feature boiling pools, geysers that can blast hundreds of feet into the air and toxic gases.
The crust that makes up the ground in parts of Yellowstone is formed when minerals underground are dissolved by the high-temperature water, then redeposited on or near the surface.
The Norris basin area was closed pending the search.
Other recent tourist incidents at Yellowstone include a 13-year-old boy who got burned days ago when his father, who had been carrying him, slipped into a different hot spring.
In May, a Canadian film crew was accused of leaving an established boardwalk and stepping into a geothermal area where they snapped photos and took video of themselves.
Also last month, another Canadian man loaded a bison calf into his SUV because he thought it was cold. The calf later had to be euthanized because it could not be reunited with its herd.
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