Yellowstone tourist’s body dissolves when falls into hot pool
Brother falls into acidic hot pool as sister captures moment on cell phone.
As a safety professional, one of the most chilling books in my job-based collection is Death in Yellowstone.
The work offers many cautionary tales about one of our most famous and treacherous national parks, many of which stem from tourists ignoring the numerous warning signs about intense heat of the colorful pools of highly acidic water. Many visitors, unused to the great outdoors, fail to recognize the serious safety hazards associated with the park’s volcanic features and wild animals.
This lack of awareness has claimed another victim, as reports are now emerging about a tragic incident that occurred this summer that claimed the life of a young man, Colin Scott. It appears that he and his sister were hoping to use one of the area’s hot pools as a natural jacuzzi.
The accident happened in Norris Geyser basin on the afternoon of June 7. Deputy Chief Ranger Lorant Veress says it is a very dangerous area with boiling acidic waters.
Veress explained, “There’s a closure in place to keep people from doing that for their own safety and also to protect the resources because they are very fragile. But, most importantly for the safety of people because it’s a very unforgiving environment.”
But, according to the official incident report released by the National Park Service, 23-year old Colin Nathaniel Scott of Portland, Oregon, and his sister Sable Scott left the boardwalk near Pork Chop Geyser, then walked several hundred feet up a hill.
Veress said, “… they were specifically moving in that area for a place that they could potentially get into and soak. I think they call it Hot Potting.”
The sister captured the incident on her cell phone.
Rescue teams later found his body in the pool but abandoned attempts to retrieve it due to the decreasing light available, the danger to themselves and an approaching lightning storm.
The following day, workers were unable to find any significant remains in the boiling water.
“In a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving,” Mr Veress said.
Fortunately, incidents such as this are relatively rare for Yellowstone. This national park sees about 3.5 million visitors each year, and only 22 accidents related to the hot pools have been recorded. But those fatalities are so horrifying that they are well remembered.
This includes three park employees who jumped into a hot spring in the dark, thinking it was only a small stream. One died and two were severely burned. Another young man died after diving headfirst into the 200-degree Celestine Pool in an attempt to save his friends’ dog. The first recorded casualty of the hot springs was a seven-year-old boy in 1890, and the total number of geyser-related injuries is probably much higher.
“Most people who get thermal burns feel a little sheepish about it,” Hank Heasler, the park’s principle geologist, said in a Yellowstone blog post. “Geothermal attractions are one of the most dangerous natural features in Yellowstone, but I don’t sense that awareness in either visitors or employees.”
To conclude on a more positive note: Despite the fact Yellowstone lays on top of a huge magma chamber, geologists do not anticipate significant volcanic activity for the next few thousand years. So, people can enjoy this area safely if they follow the park’s rules and use some common sense.
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to the full extent allowed by law.
Well, talk about chlorinating the gene pool.
Yep, that’ll do it….
Fences. Gates. Signs. Common sense. Sorry, no sympathy here.
“Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can’t help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime: the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.
– Robert A. Heinlein, “Time Enough For Love”
I will never order soup from the Yellowstone concession ever again.
For stupidity, this ranks right up there with letting your 3-yr old boy gallivant around a lake in Florida.
I’ve read “Death in Yellowstone.” The hot springs deaths are by far the most horrifying, but they are far exceeded by drowning, falls and traffic accidents. Deaths by bear are very rare.
If I ever develop a burning desire to go hot tubbing with my sister I deserve to die.
Definitely a Darwin Award candidate.
What I read, he didn’t fall in, he jumped in looking to get it on video and got more than he bargained for.
This does not belong on LI. What next beheading scenes? Come on professor, you are better than this. BTW, I did not click on the video. I’ve seen death and I am not a fan.
Kicking myself for all the time I spent dumping bodies off the continental shelf. Could have just trucked them up to yellowstone.
It was not an accident, rather an act of stupidity.
Having lived nearby for many years, we got used to hearing reports of husbands who were gored to death by the buffalo they were trying to place their child atop so mom could take a photo, people diving into thermal features because they wanted a good soak or a picture, people being stomped to death by moose for getting too close and riling them up, people eating poisonous mushrooms thinking them safe, and so forth. They fail to understand that Yellowstone is not a theme park but nature at work and that Mother is an impartial killer.
Hey, Dr. Darwin, hold my beer and watch this.
I assume Paul, above, is referencing the gator accident at a Disney resort. I think that’s a factually dissimilar and inapposite comparison by any reasonable measure. The family in that incident were on the grounds of a major private resort, featuring open grounds and marketed as “family friendly,” and with inadequate warning signs that didn’t inform visitors of a specific risk of gators lurking in the waters (an artificial lake) in question, thus preventing them from being aware of a specific threat and modifying their behavior accordingly. The family would have easily won a wrongful death lawsuit (or, most likely settled quickly), had they chosen to sue Disney, the signs only warning against swimming, generally. The child victim wasn’t swimming.
Here, we have an adult off in search of a hot tub in the wild, in an area filled with sundry natural hazards.
It’s silly to attempt to,draw a culpability equivalence between the two scenarios.
Wonder how many murder victims or journalists investigating the Clintons end up in those dissolving hot pots.
This is maybe weirder than it looks. How did Sis happen to catch this magic moment? Was she really just videoing him sticking his toe in the water, or did she decide she just had to “get it” after he fell in?
In case no one has read it before, if you cannot see the bottom of the body of water (natural or man-made), then in Florida you must presume that there might be an alligator (or more than one alligator for larger bodies of water) in the body of water that you cannot see. If you can see the bottom, there may still be an alligator(or more) that you cannot see nearby. Jump in, splash around and act like prey and you might find out. Or stand near the water. See how fast an alligator can launch themselves at prey on the shoreline.
Small, man-made chlorinated pools with underwater lights and screened enclosures are popular in Florida for several reasons. However, do not trust the screens to keep out alligators. They only indicate whether the screened enclosure has been breached.
From after the Disney World alligator attack:
From five years ago:
As the saying goes – “What could possibly go wrong?”