Two of five High on Life group members plead guilty.
Earlier this year, you may recall the five Canadian men who caused a huge uproar after they hopped the boardwalk railings and walked to the edge of Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Hot Spring (scroll down for the video of that incident).
The men, traveling in a big RV in a group that calls itself “High on Life SundayFundayz,” have been the subject of much controversy for going off the trail in many National Parks across the U.S. Back in May, a park visitor first reported the men walking off the boardwalk at the largest hot spring in the park.
Now, two of them have pleaded guilty at the Mammoth Hot Springs Justice Center to violations in not only Yellowstone, but Death Valley National Park as well.
Hamish McNab Campbell Cross will pay over $8,000 in fines, restitution and community service payments after he pleaded guilty to foot travel in a thermal area and disorderly conduct creating a hazardous condition.
Parker Heuser also pleaded guilty Tuesday, but his plea was in regard to commercial photos without a permit and riding a bike in wilderness in Death Valley National Park in California. He was hit with over $1,000 in fines and fees that include fines for violations made on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
Both men are also banned from National Parks and BLM land for the next five years.
The Bonneville incident was when the men made a video of themselves driving their RV on the delicate flats and wake-boarding behind it. The flats are closed to vehicle traffic in the spring when the flats have standing water or are moist.
Since the Yellowstone spring incident highlighted what the group of men were up to, the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management have been involved in multiple investigations of the men as they travelled across the U.S. earlier this summer.
The places they’ve been issued violation notices seem to go on and on. Authorities have also issued violations to the men in Mesa Verde National Park, Zion National Park, and Corona Arch.
While Cross and Heuser pleaded guilty, three other men, including Charles Ryker Gamble, Andriyovych Lyakh, Justis and Cooper Price Brown pleaded not guilty and are being appointed court attorneys in the case.
As noted by the Jackson Hole News and Guide back in May, some of the photos and a video the men took at the Yellowstone hot spring were later deleted from the group’s Facebook page and Youtube.
The video uploaded by the group actually showed the men photographing and then ignoring warning signs of the dangers of the hot springs. A video of the men walking on the spring taken by some other visitors is still online, however.
Despite their legal troubles, the men’s Facebook page has remained active and continues to post travel-related posts, including information and photos about visiting National Parks.
“The judge’s decision today sends a very clear message about thermal feature protection and safety,” Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said in a press release. “Hamish Cross’s egregious actions damaged a world-class hot spring and risked his own life coupled with the lives of responding rangers.”
For now, we’ll have to wait and see what the outcome of the other three men’s case is, but it sounds like Yellowstone can’t wait.
“We look forward to the outcome of the case regarding the three remaining defendants,” Wenk said.