MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. (KMVT/KSVT) — One man dies, another is in critical condition from two water related accidents in Yellowstone National Park. Penny Preston reports very cold, and very hot waters in the world’s first national park are dangerous.
Image from Penny Preston. Warning sign posted near Fountain Flat Drive, a few miles north of Old Faithful, in Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone Lake is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in North America. It is fed by snowmelt from the mountains surrounding it.
It can suddenly turn from smooth, to turbulent. The National Park Service says a kayak guide, 23-year-old Timothy Conant from Salt Lake City, died while trying to save a client whose kayak had capsized on Wednesday.
It happened on the southern portion of the 20-mile long lake, near West Thumb. The client was rescued by other guides with the private California company called Oars. A park press release says Park rangers responded to the scene of the accident, and started CPR, but Conant was pronounced dead on his way to a life flight.
Meanwhile, the park’s hottest waters severely burned a Xanterra employee late Tuesday night.
“His name is Gervait Gatete. He unfortunately fell into a hot spring. He was with a party of 7,” said Morgan Warthin, with Yellowstone Public Affairs.
The park spokeswoman says it happened off Fountain Flat Drive, a few miles north of Old Faithful. There are several hot springs on the edge of the river here, but Warthin says investigators have not yet determined exactly where the accident happened.
The victim was flown to Salt Lake City.
“The spokesperson at the Salt Lake City burn center says he’s in critical but stable condition,” Warthin said.
Neither of the victims were park employees, rather employees of companies that operate in the park.
“Xanterra employees, when they arrive in the park they received an orientation,” she said. “And that orientation is in depth, and it’s all about how they can stay safe in the Park.”
This Xanterra employee from Poland says she was taught how to stay a safe distance from wildlife and the hot waters here.
“How hot is, and like it contains acid,” said Joanna Rusinowska, a Xanterra Employee. “And for example like there is area near that we can fall down.”
Bikers who rode out of this trail nearby, said people were swimming near the riverside hot spring a mile away.
The burn victim is from North Carolina. In June last year, an Oregon man died after falling into a hot spring in Norris Geyser Basin.
Kayak guide dies while trying to rescue Yellowstone park visitor
This Sept. 3, 2015, photo provided by the National Park Service shows the West Thumb area of Yellowstone Lake in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo.
Jim Peaco/National Park Service via AP
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. -- A kayak guide in his first season on the job in Yellowstone National Park has died while trying to rescue a park visitor who capsized on Yellowstone Lake.
Timothy Hayden Ryan Conant, 23, of Salt Lake City died Wednesday in the West Thumb area of the lake, according to the National Park Service.
Conant was among three guides on a kayaking excursion with a group of nine tourists.
Park rangers found Conant in the water and worked to revive him, but he was pronounced dead before he could be transported by helicopter to a hospital.
Park officials say the client whom Conant attempted to save was rescued by other guides in the group and was treated for hypothermia at a park clinic.
The incident is under investigation.
Yellowstone spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said the incident occurred about 400 yards off the west shore of the lake.
There was no unusual weather at the time of the incident, which occurred in the late afternoon when the lake often can become rough because of wind, Warthin said.
Warthin said the average year-round temperature of the lake is 43 degrees. It's likely cooler now because Yellowstone has just come out of its winter season. Some areas of the park received snow earlier this week.
The National Park Service was not releasing the name of the tourist involved, she said.
Conant worked for O.A.R.S., a company based out of Angels Camp, California, that has offered non-motorized boat tours in Yellowstone under a permit since 1996.
The company issued a statement late Thursday saying that Conant will be remembered as a hero by trying to save a 62-year-old client. It said Conant's kayak overturned during the rescue and he "spent a considerable amount of time in the cold water."
Steve Markle, a spokesman for the company, said he understood that this was Conant's first season working as a kayak guide after working at Utah ski resorts over the previous few years. Conant was originally from Anchorage, Alaska, and had moved to Utah to attend college, he said.
Markle declined to comment about the incident because it was under investigation.
But he said the company was devastated by Conant's death and suspended its daily kayaking trips in Yellowstone through the weekend.
"Right now all of our efforts are really focused on making sure we assist Tim's family and friends in any way we can," Markle said.
Max Pelosi, director of the Jackson Hole Kayak School in Jackson, said any rescue 400 yards from shore in Yellowstone Lake would require a deep water rescue technique where the guide would dump water out of the capsized boat and help the client back in.
The guide typically does not get out of his or her boat during a deep water rescue, Pelosi, whose company conducts kayak tours in Yellowstone Lake, said.
"As a guide I'm trying almost to never be out of my boat unless I'm on land," he said.
Since 1894, there have been 41 deaths in Yellowstone Lake. The most recent was in 1997 when two people died while canoeing.
It was the second death in Yellowstone, the world's first national park, this month. An Illinois man was found dead June 9 from an apparent fall.
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. -
A kayak guide from Salt Lake City, Utah died while attempting to rescue a client who capsized on Yellowstone Lake on Wednesday.
Timothy Hayden Ryan Conant, 23, was one of three guides leading a kayaking group with nine clients, according to a press release.
Rangers responded to the West Thumb area of Yellowstone Lake in a patrol boat and found Conant in the water.
He was brought on board and CPR was started while in route to the dock.
CPR was continued as Conant was transported via ambulance about a half mile to the helipad at Grant Village.
A Life Flight had landed to assist, but Conant was pronounced dead before take off.
"Out hearts are with the Conant family after this terrible loss," said Superintendent Dan Wenk.
The client Conant was attempting to save was rescued by other guides and brought to shore before rangers arrived.
The client was transported to the park clinic and treated for hypothermia.
The incident is still under investigation.
Conant worked as a guide for Oars, based out of Angel Camp, Cali.
Oars has offered non-motorized boat tours in Yellowstone under permit since 1996.
This was Conant's first season working for Oars.
Since 1894, there have been 41 deaths in Yellowstone Lake.
The most recent was in 1997 when two people died while canoeing.
Survival time is estimated to be only 20 to 30 minutes due to the water's temperature.