Colin Scott (lost death footage of man at Yellowstone National Park hot spring; 2016)
On 7th June 2016, Psychology graduate Colin Scott and his sister Sable were travelling through a prohibited area of Yellowstone National Park, with the intent to partake in "hot potting" within one of Yellowstone's thermal pools. The day ended in tragedy when Scott accidentally fell into a hot spring within the Norris Geyser Basin, which not only ended his life but dissolved his entire body. It is known that Sable had been filming their adventures, including when her brother fell into the spring.
Heading into the event, Scott had recently graduated from Pacific University, and travelled from Portland, Oregon to meet his sister. The pair decided to take a day trip to Yellowstone National Park, parking not far from the Norris Geyser Basin. With nobody travelling alongside them, the Scotts opted to deviate from the prescribed boardwalk route that covered thermal areas within the Basin. This is an act prohibited within the Park, due to the dangerous nature of hot springs at Yellowstone. According to the National Park Service, it is crucial for visitors to stay on the boardwalks, as the heat and acidity of hot springs makes them the biggest natural cause of death or injury within Yellowstone. According to park officials, at least 22 people have died from hot spring accidents at Yellowstone since 1890. However, not only did they ignore the warnings placed throughout the walk, walking several hundred feet up a hill in the process, they also had planned to engage in "hot potting". Hot potting is the prohibited exercise of swimming in hot springs.
Sable filmed herself and her brother via a smartphone deviating from the boardwalk path when they came across one of the hot pools. Colin kneeled down to examine the temperature of the spring when he suddenly slipped and fell into it. Under normal circumstances, water temperatures at Norris Geyser reach around 93C/199F. With his sister unable to rescue him, with her also suffering minor injuries in the process, Colin died from scalding as a result of the submersion within the thermal hot spring, aged 23. Sable was unable to call for immediate assistance, as there was no mobile phone service at the basin. Thus, Sable was forced to retreat to the nearby Ranger Museum for assistance.
When officials reached the spring, they found remains of Scott's head, upper torso, and hands. However, they were unable to recover these remains because the spring was now at 100C/212F, with a lightning storm also being forecast. The next morning, officials returned to the spring, but by that point the acidic pool had completely dissolved Scott's body. All that remained were a few personal belongings, including his wallet and flip-flops. Colin Scott had graduated from Pacific University a few weeks prior and was "a top student, a wonderful person and a testament to all the values that Pacific University stands for." Additionally, his family stated he was a "dedicated Christian, whose love for people stemmed from the love he felt from God."
As detailed in an Incident Report released under a Freedom of Information request, Sable had filmed the entire incident. While the transcription of the video has been censored, it is known that the video included the pair intentionally walking off the boardwalk, Scott slipping into the spring, and his sister's attempts to rescue him. Due to the video's disturbing nature, as well as out of respect to Scott and his relatives, park officials will not publicly release the footage.
- Official incident report on Scott's death. Retrieved 02 Sep '22
- The Guardian reporting on Scott's motivation in seeking to hot pot, and his subsequent death. Retrieved 02 Sep '22
- Country Living reporting on the investigation's findings and park officials refusing to release the footage out of respect to Scott's relatives. Retrieved 02 Sep '22
- Daily Mail reporting on the death of Scott and the extent of deaths at hot springs at Yellowstone. Retrieved 02 Sep '22
- National Park Services' description of the Norris Geyser Basin. Retrieved 02 Sep '22
- National Park Service detailing the dangers of hot springs and noting the 20+ deaths that have occurred from entering or falling into one of the pools. Retrieved 02 Sep '22
- Pacific University's tribute to Scott. Retrieved 02 Sep '22