A Yellowstone National Park tourist has been handed a jail sentence after leaving the path to visit restricted areas of the region's acidic thermal pools – where a man previously "boiled alive and dissolved".
Madeline Casey, 26, of Hartford, Connecticut, left the "well marked" path and began walking around the grounds of the Norris Geyser Basin, the US Department of Justice said in a release from the US attorney's office for the District of Wyoming.
They said she had been with two other people when they made their way up to a thermal pool and geyser at the park.
The release added that multiple other tourists had been concerned at seeing them leave the path and took photos and videos of the three.
During a court appearance on August 18, Casey was given a week-long jail sentence and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, $40 in fees, and $1,000 as a community service payment to the Yellowstone Forever Geological Resource Fund
"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."
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"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 trial in thermal areas," Bob Murray, acting United States attorney, said in the statement. "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."
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In 2016, Colin Scott, 23, died after he slipped and fell into one of the park's hot springs near the Porkchop Geyser.
Water temperatures at the basin typically reach 93C, but when rescuers came to retrieve Colin's body the pool was bubbling away at 100C – boiling point.
First, he was boiled alive, but as if that wasn't grisly enough, his body was dissolved by the acidic water before he could be saved.
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Official police reports obtained after Colin's death showed that he and his sister, Sable, had hiked into a prohibited area looking for a place to have an illegal swim, known as ‘hot potting’.
The pair ignored the many large warning signs posted in the area telling visitors to remain on the boardwalk.
Sable had videoed the pair of them purposefully stepping off the Norris Geyser Basin’s boardwalk to look for a perfect pool to have a relaxing dip in when he slipped and fell into azure blue water.
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As there was no phone signal there she ran to a nearby museum to raise the alarm, but when she returned with several park rangers, it was too late.
They saw portions of Colin’s head, upper torso and hands were visible in the hot spring.
Sadly, when they returned the next morning, Colin's body was no longer visible, although they did find a wallet and his flip-flops.
The report confirmed that they believed that Colin had been entirely dissolved overnight.
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