A 48-year-old man walked himself into calamity at Old Faithful late Sunday night, endangering his life while apparently trespassing and allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
In the latest case in a long line of recent Yellowstone National Park flouters of regulations and National Park Service advice, Cade Edmond Siemers ended up hospitalized after falling into boiling hot thermal water near the iconic sightseeing heart of the park.
National Park Service officials developed a timeline indicating Siemers departed from the accepted boardwalk path and fell into a hot spring before working his way back to the Old Faithful Inn while suffering from serious burns.
He called for assistance about midnight after returning to his room, according to park service public information officer Morgan Worthin. Siemers was transported by ambulance to West Yellowstone Airport and he was then transferred to the burn center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.
While investigating the circumstances, Park rangers found a shoe, hat, beer can and footprints in the soft land near the geyser’s cone, Worthin said.
It was not clear if Siemers, pending a recovery, will face criminal charges for his exploits from the U.S. Attorney.
Although an American citizen, Siemers had been living in India. He was initially listed in critical condition at the burn center.
When rangers confronted Siemers he admitted he had walked into the area near the cone in the dark without carrying a flashlight. Rangers said they suspect Siemers had been drinking alcohol.
The temperature of water in the area where Siemers fell can run between 150 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
As of two weeks ago – as recently as Park Service statistics have been updated, said information officer Linda Veress – there have been 36 cases where visitors have been required to make mandatory court appearances in the Park due to thermal incidents.
There have been 35 citations, one arrest, plus 13 verbal warnings.
Signs are posted in many locations inside Yellowstone warning the 4-million-plus annual visitors to stay on boardwalks and not venture onto the fragile ground where thermal features have the capacity to result in fatalities.
Besides signage warning people to stay clear of stepping onto the grounds spewing steam in thermal areas, the Park lists stern advice on its website. The order carries this message: “Hot springs have injured or killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature. Keep your children close and don’t let them run.”
Under the law, it is illegal to leave the boardwalks around Old Faithful, the Park feature that has been erupting on a fairly regular predictable schedule for centuries.
Those who violate that rule can be punished by up to six months in prison and a fine of $5,000.
Despite these repeated alerts, there have been several instances of tourists ignoring them, both around Old Faithful and elsewhere in the 2.2-million-acre Park.
In September of 2018 a man was caught on video walking up to the Old Faithful cone, apparently urinating into it. Rangers spotted him and shouted to get onto the boardwalk. The Colorado man pleaded guilty two months later to disorderly conduct and walking in a thermal area.
In August of this year a man walked across land surrounding Old Faithful to take a photograph near the cone as other tourists booed him. He flipped them the bird in response
Seemingly the most outrage in recent years was directed at a group of Canadians who illegally walked over the grounds at the Grand Prismatic Spring in 2016.
Four people traveling under the name “High on Life Sunday/Fundayz” were charged after they bragged on social media about their adventures and eventually appeared in court in Yellowstone.
Also in 2016, a man in his 20s walked off the boardwalk path to his death at Norris Geyser Basin.
In 2017, a man fell into a hot spring at Lower Geyser Basin and suffered serious burns.