When Colin Scott, age 23, and his sister were looking for a place to “hot pot” or soak in the steaming waters while visiting Yellowstone National Park, he ended up making a fatal mistake. Scott was reaching down to test the temperature of the water when he slipped and fell into the pool.
The victim’s sister, Sable Scott, told park officials that she watched her brother Colin fall into the thermal pool.
“They were specifically moving in that area for a place that they could potentially get into and soak,” Deputy Chief Ranger Lorand Veress told KULR-TV. “I think they call it ‘hot potting.'”
According to the report, the brother and sister illegally ventured off the boardwalk at Norris Geyser Basin. Sable told park officials she recorded the journey on her cell phone, and captured Colin’s fall on her cell phone, though the video was not released with the report.
After Colin’s sister reported the call, Rangers made their way to the geyser to recover the body.
Rescuers arrived at the hot springs and determined that Colin was dead after seeing the “upper torso of a male victim floating face-up in a pool.”
The report also stated that the water temperature in the ten-foot-deep pool was over 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
A team of search and rescue rangers was called to look for Scott. They found his body in the pool, along with his wallet and flip flops, but their recovery efforts were put on hold due to an incoming lightning storm. The next day, they went back to retrieve the body and could not find any remains because of the acidic water quality.
Deputy Veress told KULR “In a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving.”
“Evidence suggests that the extreme heat and the acidity of the water quickly dissolved his body in the hot spring,” according to the report, which stated his causes of death was ‘”scalding due to submersion in thermal hot spring.”
Park officials released the report following a Freedom of Information Act request filed by KULR-TV.
The park prohibits people from walking off the boardwalks or swimming in hot springs.
The National Park Service has not issued any citations in regard to the incident.
Other Deaths and Injuries at Yellowstone’s Geysers and Hot Springs
There are many dangers that you have to look out for when you are visiting the historical Yellow National Park. Along with the wild animals that roam free throughout the landscape, there are also several geysers and geothermal water sites that can be extremely dangerous.
In June 2006, a 6-year old boy from Utah suffered from severe burns after he accidently slipped on a wet boardwalk in the area where Old Faithful is located. The boy fell into hot water that had erupted from nearby West Triplet Geyser. Fortunately, he survived, but there have been 20 park visitors who have died. Prior to Scott’s death, the most recent was in 2000 when an individual was scalded by boiling Yellowstone waters as hot as 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Geothermal attractions are one of the most dangerous natural features in Yellowstone, but I don’t sense that awareness in either visitors or employees,” says Hank Heasler, the park’s principle geologist.
The National Park Service publishes warnings, posts, signs, and maintains boardwalks where people can walk to get close to popular geyser fields. But even with all the warnings, park rangers rescue at least one or two visitors each year who fall from boardwalks, wander off the designated paths or punch their feet through the thin earthen crust into boiling water.
Yellowstone National Park protects over 10,000 geysers, mudpots, steamvents and hot springs. People who get too close have been suffering burns since the first explorers of the region. During the 1870 Washburn Expedition, Truman Everts was exploring the area when he was separated from his main party for 37 days. He burned his hip seeking warmth from the hot springs at Heart Lake.
The first fatality occurred when a 7-year old boy from Livingston, Montana died when he fell into a hot spring in 1890.
In his book Death in Yellowstone, park historical archivist Lee H. Whittlesey researched through years of park records to identify the 19 human fatalities due to falling into thermal areas. The victims include seven young children who slipped away from their parents, teenagers who fell through the surface crust, fishermen who inadvertently stepped into hot springs near Yellowstone Lake, and park concession employees who illegally took “hot pot” swims in thermal pools.