A freedom-of-information request has revealed the tragic and grisly fate of a young man who disappeared while trying to enjoy a relaxing soak in a thermal hot spring.
As we reported in June, a visitor to Yellowstone National Park in the US north-west reported seeing a man in his early 20s walk off the boardwalk in the Norris Geyser Basin area and fall into a thermal spring. See: Tourist feared dead after falling into boiling geyser.
It turns out there’s rather more to the story – though sadly, nothing left of the victim. The hot spring dissolved his remains before they could be recovered the following day, it has emerged.
Colin Scott, 23, died in June in an illegal attempt to soak, or “hot pot”, in the park’s thermal pools, the BBC has reported.
A local television news channel used freedom of information legislation to obtain an official report on the incident. It said that Scott and his sister, Sable Scott, left the defined boardwalk area in Norris Basin on 7 June 2016. They were seeking an area to soak in the thermal springs, despite the potential danger and warning signs.
The victim’s sister was recording a video of her brother on her phone as he reached down to test the water – when suddenly he slipped and fell in, the incident report says.
“It’s a very unforgiving environment,” Yellowstone’s deputy chief ranger Lorant Veress told KULR 8, which broke the story.
Rescue teams were deterred from their task by fading light and a thunderstorm. By next morning, it was too late – high acidity and heat (the water was boiling) had dissolved the victim’s remains.
“In a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving,” Veress confirmed.
Yellowstone Park’s website notes: “Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest, oldest, and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s active hydrothermal areas. The highest temperature yet recorded in any Yellowstone hydrothermal area was measured in a scientific drill hole at Norris: 459°F [237°C] just 1087 feet [331 metres] below the surface.”
Hot springs have injured or killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature, the park’s website adds. A question and answer section on the website is worth quoting:
- Is it really dangerous to walk off the boardwalks in geyser basins?
- YES. Geyser basins are constantly changing. Boiling water surges just under the thin crust of most geyser basins, and many people have been severely burned when they have broken through the fragile surface. Some people have died.
Written by Peter Needham