Friday, November 1, 2013

Top 10 Ways to Die in Yellowstone

By: Peggy L Henderson

I know Halloween is over, but since my posting day is one day after, I thought I could still post about something scary and terrifying…

Top Ten Ways to Die In Yellowstone

Boiling in a Hot Spring
People have fallen in, jumped in to rescue dogs or personal items, or thought it was safe to bathe in . Some of the springs reach temperatures in excess of 200 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Death by Bison
Gorings and stompings by bison occur often because people don’t heed the warnings to stay at least 25 yards away. These animals may look slow and docile, but a two ton bison can charge at 35 miles per hour. That’s faster than the average human can run.

Lightning Strikes
Most lightning strikes occur while out boating or hiking, and not having adequate cover when a storm hits.

Aside from car accidents and illnesses, drowning claims more lives than any other danger in Yellowstone. Several deaths have been reported as recently as 2007–2010. Swimmers who underestimate their abilities, boaters whose boats capsize, and hikers who fall into a lake or river account for most of the drownings.

Poison Plants and Gases
Water hemlock looks a lot like an edible wild parsnip or carrot, but it's a virulent poison. For both of the confirmed deaths, it was, unfortunately, their final meal. Deadly hydrogen sulphide, which occurs naturally in Yellowstone, killed a worker helping to dig a pit in 1939.

One fall involved a driver who backed his car off a cliff, killing both himself and his wife. Several workers have died after falling from scaffoldings or buildings. Others who have fallen to their deaths from cliffs have ignored warning signs and wandered from established trails.

A number of people froze to death or died in avalanches in Yellowstone during its early years. Since 1921, however, such deaths have been very rare; three people died in two separate avalanches in the 1990s.

Rolling Rocks
Setting a boulder tumbling into a canyon might seem like innocent fun until you realize there are hikers down below. One person died this way, while several others were killed by rocks that were unintentionally dislodged or just happened to fall.

Falling Trees
Although rare, deaths from being hit by a tree have happened several times in Yellowstone, either during logging operations or windstorms.

Grizzly Mauling
The first documented death caused by a bear in Yellowstone happened in 1916; the latest two, in summer 2011, after a gap of 25 years when no bear-related deaths were recorded. Visitors have died while hiking, sleeping in tents, or getting too close to a bear while trying to snap that perfect picture.

This list was complied from one of my favorite books about Yellowstone. For more details about deaths in America's oldest national park, check out Death in Yellowstone - Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park
By park historian Lee Whittlesey.
In the introduction, the author states, “Play safely, and think before you act.”
Now go out and enjoy your national parks!


Caroline Clemmons said...

Peggy, I am amazed people would try to bathe in the hot springs, but I can see trying to rescue a pet - although you'd think people would keep their pets away from danger. I've never been to the park, but have always wanted to go there. My parents went before I was born and my mom told of someone several cars ahead - in spite of warning signs - giving a bear a jar of honey. My parents watched the bear drain the jar (safely from their car). I can't imagine people being so stupid, can you? Being in a park doesn't mean the wildlife is tame.

Unknown said...

Yellowstone is one of the most beautiful -- and at the same time, most terrifying -- places I've ever visited. I can understand accidentally becoming the victim of a rock or snow avalanche, falling off a cliff, or even stumbling into a mud pit or hot spring. Fooling with wildlife, though.... What are people thinking? The animals are called WILDlife for a reason! **shaking head**

Peggy, I always enjoy your posts about Yellowstone. That's for another eye-opener! :-)

Unknown said...

Speaking of carelessness: "that's" should have been "thanks." :-D

Peggy Henderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peggy Henderson said...

One of our favorite things to do in Yellowstone is "people watching" and taking photos of tourists doing things that will land them in the next edition of "Death in Yellowstone"

Susan Horsnell said...

Wow, there are certainly things to be aware of when you visit Yellowstone, Peggy. Like Kathleen said "it is called wildlife for a reason." Enjoyed your blog as usual.