Man Who Died In Yellowstone Hot Spring Was Looking For Place To Soak

Nov 16, 2016

Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park.
Credit Daniel Mayer

The man who died in a Yellowstone hot spring last summer was apparently looking for a place to soak in the park. Yellowstone officials released the final report on the accident following a Freedom of Information Act request. The victim’s sister recorded the incident on her cell phone.

The accident happened in Norris Geyser basin on the afternoon of June 7. Deputy Chief Ranger Lorant Veress says it is a very dangerous area with boiling acidic waters.

Veress explained, “There’s a closure in place to keep people from doing that for their own safety and also to protect the resources because they are very fragile. But, most importantly for the safety of people because it’s a very unforgiving environment.”

But, according to the official incident report released by the National Park Service, 23-year-old Colin Nathaniel Scott of Portland, Oregon, and his sister Sable Scott left the boardwalk near Pork Chop Geyser, then walked several hundred feet up a hill.

Veress said, “They were specifically moving in that area for a place that they could potentially get into and soak. I think they call it Hot Potting.”

The report says Sable used her phone to record the journey to the hot spring. The report quotes her as saying she was shooting a video of her brother when the deadly accident happened. However park officials would not release the video, or even a description of it.

Other areas of the report are redacted under the Privacy act. Veress said it was done out of sensitivity to the family.

The report did quote Sable as saying, “her brother was reaching down to check the temperature of a hot spring when he slipped and fell into the pool.”

Search and rescue rangers who arrived later did find the victim’s body in the pool, along with his wallet, and flip flops. But, a lightning storm stopped the recovery efforts. The next day, workers could not find any remains. Veress says the water was churning, and acidic.

He remarked, “In a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving”

Varess said the park posts warning signs for important reasons. 

“It is wild and it hasn’t been overly altered by people to make things a whole lot safer. It’s got dangers, and a place like Yellowstone, which is set aside because of the incredible geothermal resources that are here, all the more so.”

There were no citations issued in relation to the Norris incident.