Man jailed for dangerous stunt at Yellowstone’s Old Faithful

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A man who was cited for trespassing at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park last July has been sentenced to 15 days in jail and banned from the park.

Aaron E. Merritt, 37, pleaded guilty to trespassing during his arraignment Thursday before Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming.

On July 7, 2020, Merritt, who is from Madison, Maine, repeatedly ran up to the Old Faithful geyser while wearing a raccoon fur hat and carrying the American flag. When a ranger arrived, Merritt was 50 feet beyond the safety of the boardwalk.

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Tourists at the famous geyser, which erupts at predictable intervals, must stay on boardwalks that surround the thermal feature.

Crowd watches Old Faithful. Photo: NPS

Merritt was cited but failed to appear for his July 23, 2020 court appearance. A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was arrested in Maine on June 5, 2021, according to a U.S. Department of Justice District of Wyoming news release.

Merritt was sentenced to 15 days imprisonment with credit for four days served. He was fined $200, plus $30 in court costs and a $10 assessment fee.

–Top image showing Old Faithful erupt is courtesy of ©Pete Thomas