Man sentenced to jail to deter reckless behavior at Yellowstone

A man who illegally left the boardwalk, climbed over a fence and dangerously walked to within 15-20 feet of the Steamboat Geyser’s steam vent at Yellowstone National Park was given a sentence designed to deter him and others from such reckless behavior in the iconic park.

An on-duty park employee witnessed Viktor Pyshniuk, 21, walking off the boardwalk at the aforementioned location and reported him to Yellowstone National Park law enforcement, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Wyoming.

The employee took photos of the man beyond the fence and walking up the hillside toward the unpredictable geyser.

Pyshniuk, who is from Lynwood, Washington, told the officer he left the boardwalk to take photos.

“While speaking with Pyshniuk, the officer showed him the signs posted throughout the area stating it is illegal to leave the boardwalk and explained that walking in a thermal area is very dangerous due to possible weak ground layer, the geothermal features of mud pots, heated steam and water, and all other dangers associated with walking in a heated, unpredictable geothermal area,” the attorney’s office stated in a press release on Thursday.

Pyshniuk was sentenced to seven days in jail for thermal trespass at Steamboat Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin. He was also ordered to pay $1,550 in fines and fees, and was placed on two years of unsupervised release. He also received a two-year ban from Yellowstone for a closure violation.

“Magistrate Judge Stephanie A. Hambrick imposed the sentence on June 4,” the attorney’s office stated. “During sentencing she explained to the defendant that the sentence was designed to deter him, specifically, but also the public from leaving the boardwalk in this area. She expressed her concern that the defendant’s actions were seen by the people around him, and they might have thought it was okay to do the same thing. And if every visitor to YNP disobeyed the rules, the park would be destroyed, and no-one would be able to enjoy it.”

Steamboat Geyser is the world’s tallest active geyser and the most dangerous, as it has erratic and unpredictable eruptions that can rise from 6 to 300-feet high. Intervals between eruptions range from three to 89 days, according to Yellowstone’s website.

“Trespassing in closed, thermal areas of Yellowstone National Park is dangerous and harms the natural resource,” said Acting United States Attorney Eric Heimann. “In cases like this one where we have strong evidence showing a person has willfully disregarded signs and entered a closed, thermal area, federal prosecutors will seek significant penalties, including jail time.”

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Story originally appeared on For The Win