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Falling Tree Kills Yellowstone National Park Visitor


A 36-year-old Taiwanese visitor to Yellowstone National Park who apparently was aiming for a better camera angle of Grand Prismatic Spring was killed when a tree fell on top of him.

The man, whose name was being withheld pending notification of next of kin, died Monday afternoon, park officials said Tuesday. He was part of a group that was hiking the Fairy Falls trail, which is north of the Old Faithful area and west of the Grand Loop Road.

According to a park release, the man left the trail and ascended a nearby tree-covered slope in an apparent attempt to get a better view of Grand Prismatic Spring, when a lodgepole pine tree fell and struck him in the head.

Other hikers who saw the accident alerted park authorities.  "The victim was moved by rangers to the trailhead to await helicopter transport to a medical facility, but after attempts to revive him failed he was declared dead at the scene," the release said. "Yellowstone rangers who responded reported windy weather conditions in the area at the time, and that the fallen tree had been a standing, dead lodgepole, fire-killed during the park’s 1988 fires."


Wonder how long before a lawyer sues-- there should of been a "watch for falling trees" sign  somewhere.

All those trees need to be cut down. They are a menace. I'm shocked -- shocked, I tell you -- that our government would allow such hazards.

Luckily I think there's a couple former Boy Scout troop leaders in the Utah area who might be interested in picking up some daywork. I've heard they are very good at toppling things and currently in need of a little extra cash for attorneys' fees.

I see people are taking the usual jibes at the legal system. But it's hard to find a lawyer to take on a case where there's no obvious possibility of negligence, and all but impossible to do so when there's obviously no negligence. And even if a plaintiff does find a lawyer, the lawyer still has to convince a jury that there was negligence. From the article, one can't tell if there was any negligence here or not, but if there was, why shouldn't the victim's estate get a monetary award? Maybe the victim had children who depended on him for support.

I would bet that for every case in which a jury wrongly awards damages when there was insufficient evidence of negligence, there are a thousand cases in which an injury follows negligence (or worse) but the victim doesn't sue, for one or more of any number or reasons, including being unable to find a lawyer willing to take the case.

We were in the area when this happened. We had walked around the Grand Prismatic boardwalk & planned to then take the Fairy Falls trail to the hills behind Grand Prismatic in order to get a great view of the hot spring. We had done this on previous trips to Yellowstone as well. The day was incredibly windy. Our 2 teenage daughters & myself were nearly blown off boardwalks as we viewed different hot springs that morning. Thankfully, my husband is a big, hulk of a man & we all grabbed on to him. As we were making our way to the Fairy Falls trail, our oldest daughter was complaining of sever stomach pain (due to her Crohn's disease) & younger daughter had a headache. We decided to drive around for a while to allow them to rest & hopefully be up for the hike in an hour or so. We drove back to the Fairy Falls trailhead about an hour & a half later & were very disappointed to see that the trail's parking area had been closed off, we also saw two Ranger vehicles parked down the trail. We did not know what had happened at the time, but decided to come back the next day & try again. Later that day we heard what happened & our hearts were heavy for the man's family & friends. But, we were thankful that the Lord protected us that day. We would have been on that same hill. Such a tragic accident, but one has to know that you take risks when entering any wilderness area. This was a tragic accident & nothing more. It's astounding that people think of National Parks as Disney World or something, expecting exacting safety measures to be taken at every turn. It's the wilderness people! 

Two days after the incident, we took the trail to the hills behind Grand Prismatic. The first of the hills (the best view) was, of course, taped off & signs were posted that the hill was closed to hiking. We stopped there & paid our respects to the man who died, then continued on to the second hill. We climbed the hill, fully aware of the risks, and enjoyed the amazing view of the hot spring. We love Yellowstone National Park! 

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