Man badly burned after falling into Yellowstone hot spring

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A 21-year-old North Carolina man suffered severe burns after falling into a hot spring Tuesday in Yellowstone National Park, officials said.

The National Park Service said Wednesday in a news release the incident occurred in the Lower Geyser Basin off Fountain Flat Drive, just north of the Old Faithful area.

Park officials said Gervais Dylan Gatete of Raleigh, an employee of park concessionaire Xanterra Parks and Resorts, was with seven other people when he fell into a spring. After he fell, the group attempted to evacuate Gatete, and then flagged down a ranger near Seven Mile Bridge on the West Entrance Road, park officials said.

He was taken by ambulance to West Yellowstone, Montana, and was flown to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. Hospital spokeswoman Suzanne Winchester told the Associated Press he was in critical but stable condition.

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Park officials said rangers were not at the scene of the incident. It was not yet clear how he fell into the spring and the incident remains under investigation.

“Yellowstone’s thermal features are dangerous,” Superintendent Dan Wenk said in a statement. “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 the area is fragile and thin, with scalding water just below the surface, according to the park.

Last June, a man left the boardwalk and died after slipping into a hot spring in Norris Geyser Basin and in August 2000, one person died and two people received severe burns from falling into a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.