A woman who illegally trespassed at Yellowstone National Park to take photos slipped and fell into a pit that left her with burns, park officials said.
The park has been closed since March 24 due to U.S. COVID-19 lockdowns, but the woman breached the park gates to take photos anyway, park officials told The Associated Press.
The woman was backing up to frame the perfect photo when she slipped and fell into a thermal feature near Old Faithful, the park’s famous geyser. She was burned by hot gas and water in the pit but still managed to climb out and get back to her car.
She drove about 80 kilometres before park rangers caught up with her at Mammoth Hot Springs. They saw that the woman had been severely burned so they called in a helicopter to airlift her to a hospital in Idaho.
The woman’s name and the extent of her injuries have not been released.
Yellowstone can be a treacherous place for anyone who strays from the park’s designated boardwalks. The park sits on a geothermal hot spot that is riddled with hot springs, steam vents and mud pots. Many of these thermal features are full of noxious fumes, boiling water or bubbling acid.
Many tourists who venture off the boardwalk have been injured or killed over the years. In 2016, for example, 23-year-old Colin Scott fell into an acid-filled mud pot and died. His body was never recovered.
Trespassers have been prosecuted, fined and jailed in the past.
Two men were sentenced to 10 days in prison and five years of probation earlier this year after they were caught on Old Faithful’s geyser cone.
“Visitors must realize that walking on thermal features is dangerous, damages the resource and (is) illegal,” park chief ranger Sarah Davis said of the sentence in January.
The park was expected to announce phased reopening plans on Wednesday.
No charges had been announced against the burned woman as of Wednesday morning.
—With files from The Associated Press