Man severely burned after falling into Yellowstone hot spring

Posted at 5:08 PM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-14 19:08:45-04

By Steve Almasy

(CNN) — A 21-year-old man from North Carolina suffered severe burns late Tuesday when he fell into a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Gervais Dylan Gatete from Raleigh was with seven other people when he was burned in the Lower Geyser Basin north of the Old Faithful area, a spokeswoman for the park said Wednesday in a written statement.

Investigators are trying to determine how Gatete fell in.

“Yellowstone’s thermal features are dangerous,” Superintendent Dan Wenk said. The park’s statement explains the ground in the area is fragile, with scalding water just below the surface.

Hot springs have killed or injured more people than other natural features at Yellowstone.

“Stay on boardwalks and trails in thermal areas,” the park warns.

Gatete works for Colorado-based Xanterra Parks and Resorts, a hospitality company that lists Yellowstone among its affiliated properties.

CNN reached out to the company for comment but didn’t get an immediate response.

Gatete was airlifted to a hospital, the Yellowstone statement said, after his group tried to take him by car. About midnight, they signaled a ranger for help and Gatete was given medical attention and taken by ambulance to an airport.

According to the park website, the Lower Geyser Basin is 18 square miles, about four-fifths the size of the island of Manhattan.

“It consists of a flat plain interspersed with meadows and stands of lodgepole pine, with the Firehole River flowing through the central part of the basin,” the park says of the area.

The deepest circulating water can be hotter than 199 degree Fahrenheit (93 Celsius), the website says.

Last June, an Oregon man died when he fell in near the Norris Basin Geyser. Colin Nathaniel Scott, 23, of Portland, went off a boardwalk and fell into a hot spring that was 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 Celsius), officials said. His body was not recovered.