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Connecticut woman sentenced to jail, fined for walking off Yellowstone boardwalk
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Connecticut woman sentenced to jail, fined for walking off Yellowstone boardwalk

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Norris Geyser Basin

The Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park is "hottest, oldest, and most dynamic of Yellowstone's thermal areas." 

A Connecticut woman faces a week in jail and $2,400 in fines after being prosecuted for walking across a thermal area in Yellowstone National Park.

"Although a criminal prosecution and jail time may seem harsh, it’s better than spending time in a hospital’s burn unit,” said acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray in a press release.

Madeline Casey, 26, of New Hartford, Connecticut, appeared before Magistrate Judge Mark Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, on Aug. 18 for sentencing.

She was charged with walking off the boardwalk in the Norris Geyser Basin to get closer to a thermal pool and geyser. Casey was photographed and filmed venturing off the boardwalk, despite the fact that many signs are posted along the route warning visitors.

“Boardwalks in geyser basins protect visitors and delicate thermal formations,” said Morgan Warthin, Yellowstone public affairs officer. “The ground is fragile and thin and scalding water just below the surface can cause severe or fatal burns."

Dating back to 1870, more than 20 people have died from burns suffered after they entered or fell into Yellowstone’s hot springs.

One of the most recent deaths occurred in 2016 when an Oregon man ventured off-trail in the Norris Geyser Basin and attempted to soak in a pool where the temperature was later recorded at 212 degrees. The water was so hot that by the time a recovery team returned to the pool the next day the man's body had dissolved in the acidic water.

“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,” Murray said.

In addition to the jail time, Casey 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.

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