Visitor Suffers Severe Burns After Chasing Dog Into Yellowstone Hot Spring

Victim transported to burn center after falling in spring while trying to retrieve pet.

Photo: htrnr via Getty

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A visitor to Yellowstone National Park suffered severe burns while trying to rescue her dog from a scaldingly-hot spring, officials at the park said on Tuesday.

In a news release, the National Park Service said that the visitor, a 20-year-old woman from Washington, was traveling with her father when the duo stopped at Maiden’s Grave Spring near the Firehole River. Upon opening the door to their car, her dog jumped out and ran into the spring. While trying to retrieve the dog, the visitor suffered “significant thermal burns between her shoulders and feet,” the park said. Her father pulled her and the dog out and drove the pair to West Yellowstone, Montana, where park rangers and personnel from the Hebgen Basin Rural Fire District provided emergency care. From there, the woman was transported to the Burn Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. In a follow-up press release on Wednesday, the park service said the dog had died.

Thermal injuries are a semi-regular occurrence in Yellowstone. This week’s incident is the second of its kind this year, after a 19-year-old concessionaire employee suffered second- and third-degree burns in Old Faithful in September. Maiden’s Grave Spring is around 200 degrees Fahrenheit; 150-degree water can cause third-degree burns to a human within two seconds.  Some victims suffer worse fates: In 2016, a 23-year-old visitor from Oregon died after slipping and falling while walking off-trail in the Norris Geyser Basin; in a report afterward, the park service said his body had dissolved in the spring’s acidic water by the time they returned to retrieve him the next day.

In its press release, the park service reminded visitors that pets must remain under their physical control at all times and asked them to exercise “extreme caution” around thermal features.