A 48-year-old man is in critical condition after suffering severe burns across his body from falling into thermal water Sunday night near the cone of Old Faithful Geyser.
A U.S. citizen currently living in India, Cade Edmond Siemers told rangers that he went for a walk off of the boardwalk without a flashlight and tripped into a hot spring, Yellowstone National Park officials said Monday.
Rangers detected evidence of alcohol use when they responded to the Old Faithful Inn at midnight where Siemers was staying. After his fall, Siemers got himself back to his hotel room.
Siemers was taken by ambulance to West Yellowstone Airport and flown to Idaho Falls. Bad weather prevented the use of a life flight helicopter at Old Faithful. He was admitted to the Burn Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center where he remained in critical condition Monday evening, hospital public information officer Coleen Niemann said.
The temperature of the water at the pool where Siemers was injured measured almost 150 degrees Fahrenheit when it was tested in August, park spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said.
“Since rangers were not at the scene of the incident last night, they went out at first light this morning to investigate in the thermal area,” the news release states. “They discovered several items near the geyser (the man’s shoe, hat, and a beer can), footprints going to and from the geyser, and blood on the boardwalk.”
It is illegal to leave the boardwalks around Old Faithful, punishable by up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The ongoing investigation includes assessing possible damage to the geyser cone.
The results of an investigation into the accident will be forwarded to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for a decision on whether criminal charges will be filed.
Park officials are reminding visitors to stay on boardwalks and exercise extreme caution around thermal features where the ground is fragile and thin, with scalding water just below the surface.
So far in 2019, about three dozen people have been cited by rangers for walking away from boardwalks in thermal areas, an increase from the number of citations in 2018, Warthin said.
This is the first serious injury in a thermal area in two years. In June 2017, a man sustained severe burns after falling in a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin. In June 2016, a man left the boardwalk and died after slipping into a hot spring in Norris Geyser Basin. In August 2000, one person died and two people received severe burns from falling into a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin.
At least 22 people are known to have died from hot springs-related injuries in and around the park since 1890, officials have said. Most of the deaths have been accidents, although at least two people had been trying to swim in a hot spring.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.