“It could have been much worse.” This Maine “daredevil” won’t be coming back to Yellowstone National Park for a long time after a heinous stunt.
Enter Aaron E. Merritt, a 37-year-old Madison, Maine resident who absolutely is old enough to know better. Instead, Merritt has been cited for trespassing at Old Faithful in Yellowstone.
The indictment began with his trip to the national park on the 7th of last July. It was then that Merritt would run well past the boardwalks and regulatory signs at Old Faithful whilst wearing a raccoon fur hat and waving the American flag. Multiple times.
Before he could reach the famous geyser, however, the “daredevil” would be caught by park rangers. Not before getting 50-feet into the restricted area, however.
Now, Merritt is pleading guilty to trespassing in Yellowstone National Park for his arraignment. Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman is overseeing the case in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, and is sentencing the 37-year-old to 15 days in jail.
Moreover, Merritt has been banned from the national park for at least four years.
“Yellowstone National Park has rules and regulations in place to protect park resources and help keep visitors safe,” says Acting US Attorney Bob Murray in a press release. “This case ended with federal charges and time in prison, but it could have been much worse.”
Murray adds that “If Mr. Merrick had fallen through the thermal feature, he would have most likely lost his life.”
At Yellowstone National Park, Safety is Paramount
If you’ve visited Yellowstone, then you know the national park has an incredible safety program with specific, extensive guidelines designed to keep visitors safe. At Old Faithful, for example, tourists must remain on designated boardwalks that surround the famous geyser at all times. If they don’t, well, ask the ironically named Mr. Merritt after he’s out of jail.
Merritt’s would-be sacrifice to Old Faithful comes mere days after another tourist’s banning from Yellowstone National Park.
Kyle Campbell, 31, is now banned from Yellowstone for an even greater five years. The cause? The 31-year-old (see: also old enough to know better) showed up to a group kayaking trip beyond intoxicated.
Apparently, Campbell was “wreaking havoc” when park rangers found him. There, Yellowstone National Park officials refused to let him or his group kayak out of Grant Marina. According to the National Park Service’s press report on the matter, the marina kayak guide on hand “thought they were too intoxicated.”
As for Aaron E. Merritt, his 15 days in jail will be followed by four years of probation, an equal ban from Yellowstone National Park, and over $200 in fines. He was previously cited to appear for a July 23, 2020, court appearance, but failed to appear. It was then that a warrant was issued for his arrest – which finally occurred June 5, 2021, in Maine.