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.DONATE
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