Officials at Yellowstone National Park say they were unable to recover the body of a 23-year-old man who slipped into a hot spring on Tuesday. Due to a combination of extreme heat and acidity, park rangers said the body was beyond retrieving and any further attempts to do so would be futile. The man, Colin Nathaniel Scott of Portland, was visiting Norris Geyser Basin with his sister when they left the boardwalk—strictly against park recommendations—and walked 225 yards over to the hot spring. Nathaniel’s sister, Sable Scott, told rangers that he slipped and fell inside.
“Using extreme caution given the hazards of the thermal area, rangers confirmed Scott’s death Tuesday evening,” stated a press release from the park.
A spokesperson from Yellowstone confirmed that several personal effects believed to have belonged to Scott were found. The Norris Geyser Basin is known to be one of the more volatile areas of the park, and there have been several incidents recently involving either wildlife or environmental hazards. Park officials urge visitors to stick to designated boardwalks when near hot springs, but these warnings are not always followed. Just earlier this month, a father and son visiting Upper Geyser Basin suffered several burns after wandering off the trail.
“It’s sort of dumb, if I could be so blunt, to walk off the boardwalks not knowing what you’re doing,” Kenneth Sims, a University of Wyoming geology professor, told the Associated Press.
Since the park started keeping records in 1890, there have been 22 documented fatalities due to hot spring-related incidents. Water at the Norris Geyser could reach temperatures up to 199 degrees, and even getting too close to the spring could result in some serious injuries. Scott is remembered as an adventurous young man who previously volunteered at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve in Oregon.
“We extend our sympathy to the Scott family,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk. “This tragic event must remind all of us to follow the regulations and stay on boardwalks when visiting Yellowstone’s geyser basins.”