The unidentified woman entered the closed park and was backing up in an attempt to take a photo when she fell into a feature that emits gases, believed to be a hot spring or hole. The exact location hasn’t been identified but is said to be near Yellowstone’s famous Old Faithful Geyser. The park has been closed since March 24 due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
The victim suffered severe burns but was able to drive herself 50 miles before park rangers pulled her over. The woman recounted her story to the police, after which they airlifted her to the Burn Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, where she is receiving treatment, CNN reported. The extent of her injuries was unclear as of this writing and the incident is currently under investigation by the National Park Service.
The park advises visitors to stay on the boardwalks, since features — including geysers, hot springs, steam vents, and mud pots — have dangerous outputs.
“Hot springs have injured or killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature,” the National Park Service website states.
Yellowstone requests that guests thoroughly understand all of the safety rules and regulations before visiting, specifically the call to stay on the proper paths.
“Boardwalks and trails protect you and delicate thermal formations. Water in hot springs can cause severe or fatal burns, and scalding water underlies most of the thin, breakable crust around hot springs,” the park website reads.
This recent occurrence isn’t the only one of tourists veering off the beaten path. Other similar events have happened and some have even turned deadly.
“Back in June, a 23-year-old Oregon resident fell into a superheated, acidic mud pot and died. His remains couldn’t be recovered.” Fox News reported.
In September, two tourists were arrested when they hopped off the boardwalk to take photos of the park’s thermal features. The men were charged with “thermal trespassing” and sentenced to 10 days in jail, five years probation, and a $540 fine, CNN reported. The pair also received a five-year park ban.
Yellowstone is the nation’s first and most popular national park. It receives over 4 million visits per year. The park, which closed in March as a result of social distancing measures put into place to help combat the coronavirus, has indicated it will announce a phased reopening plan on May 13.