Wake County

Raleigh man in critical condition after falling into Yellowstone hot springs

The world's most famous geyser Old Faithful erupts on August 15, 2005 in Yellowstone National Park. (Steve Deslich/KRT)
The world's most famous geyser Old Faithful erupts on August 15, 2005 in Yellowstone National Park. (Steve Deslich/KRT) KRT

A Raleigh man was in critical condition Thursday with burns he got when he fell into a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday.

Gervais Dylan Gatete, 21, of Raleigh fell into the spring in the Lower Geyser Basin off Fountain Flat Drive just north of the Old Faithful area, according to a news release from the park.

Gatete was in critical but stable condition at University of Utah Hospital in Sale Lake City, spokeswoman Suzanne Winchester said.

Gatete was with seven other people when he fell, officials said.

The group tried to evacuate Gatete by car. Shortly before midnight, the park said in a news release, they flagged down a ranger, and park staff were able to provide immediate medical assistance and transport him via ambulance to an airport in West Yellowstone. From there, Gatete was flown to Utah.

Gatete works for Xanterra Parks and Resorts, a Colorado-based contractor that operates all hotels and cabins in Yellowstone and holds contracts at numerous U.S. national parks

Since rangers were not at the scene Tuesday night, it was unclear how Gatete fell into the spring, according to the release. Officials still were investigating on Wednesday.

“Yellowstone’s thermal features are dangerous,” said park superintendent Dan Wenk. “We continually stress that people must stay on trails and boardwalks in geyser basins, not only to protect resources, but for their own safety.”

The ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin, and there is scalding water just below the surface.

This is the first serious injury in a thermal area this year. Last June, a man left the boardwalk and died after slipping into a hot spring in Norris Geyser Basin. In August 2000, one person died and two people received severe burns from falling into a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin.

Learn about safety in thermal areas at go.nps.gov/yellsafety.

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