JACKSON (WNE) — A Yellowstone tourist who was a little too jacked up on America while visiting last summer recently wrapped up jail time earned for antics that involved flag waving and a coonskin hat near the cone of the Old Faithful geyser.
Madison, Maine, resident Aaron Merritt was clearly looking to create a spectacle when he reportedly left the boardwalk and ran up onto Old Faithful “more than once” with the hat and flag on July 7, 2020. The 37-year-old’s legal plight was publicized in a press release distributed by the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday.
Merritt caught the attention of not just fellow geyser-gawkers, but also park rangers, who struggled throughout the summer of 2020 with rampant “thermal trespassing” — i.e., people who left boardwalks for illegal, up-close looks at geysers, hot springs and other geothermal features. Those illicit walkabouts can damage fragile thermal crusts, and can also put human lives at risk.
Merritt’s sentencing was delayed nearly a year. He failed to appear for his court hearing on July 23, 2020, but a warrant was issued and he was arrested in Maine on June 5.
Merritt subsequently appeared at the Yellowstone Justice Center. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail, fined $240 and banned from Yellowstone for an unspecified length of time, according to the press release.