Lynnwood man sentenced for trespassing near dangerous geyser in Yellowstone National Park

Steamboat Geyser erupts in Yellowstone National Park on Sept. 17, 2018. (Photo by Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service)

A Lynnwood man was sentenced to seven days in jail for trespassing to take a photo in a closed thermal area near the most dangerous geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

After serving his jail sentence, 21-year-old Viktor Pyshniuk will have two years of unsupervised release and a two-year ban from the park, as well as $1,550 in fines, according to Yellowstone National Park.

On April 19, a park employee in the Norris Geyser Basin reported a person walking off the boardwalk. The employee took a photo of Pyshniuk, who had “clearly crossed over the fence,” walking up a hill within 20 feet of Steamboat Geyser’s steam vent, according to the park. Pyshniuk told a Yellowstone National Park officer he had walked off the boardwalk to take photos.

The officer showed Pyshniuk the signs saying it’s illegal to leave the boardwalk and explained the dangers of doing so including mud pots, heated steam and water in an unpredictable geothermal area.

During sentencing on June 4 in U.S. District Court in Wyoming, Magistrate Judge Stephanie Hambrick said the sentence was both to deter him and the public from leaving the boardwalk in this area of the park. She said others could have thought it was OK to leave the boardwalk after seeing him do it, and the 3-foot fencing around the boardwalk clearly indicates the area is closed, the park said.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming Eric Heimann said in a statement trespassing in thermal areas of the park harms the natural resource.

“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,” Heimann said.

Steamboat Geyser is a popular tourist destination in the park and is seen as the most dangerous geyser, with erratic and unpredictable eruptions rising between six and 300 feet high. Eruptions can happen from Steamboat Geyser between three and 89 days, according to the park.

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— By Nicole Girten, Washington State Standard 

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia for questions: info@washingtonstatestandard.com. Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and X.

  1. It is good that the National Park Service enforces its rules. Some people think laws are for someone else.

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