Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray announced on July 2nd, 2021, that Aaron E. Merritt, age 37, of Madison, Maine pleaded guilty to trespassing on the Old Faithful thermal area in Yellowstone National Park (YNP). Merritt appeared in front of Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, on July 1, 2021, for the arraignment and sentencing.
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On July 7, 2020, while wearing a raccoon skin hat and waving an American flag, Merritt ran out on the thermal area and up to the geyser of Old Faithful more than once. He then failed to appear for his court hearing on July 23, 2020, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
He was arrested on June 5, 2021, in Maine and made his appearance at the Yellowstone Justice Center in YNP. Merritt was sentenced to fifteen days imprisonment with credit for four days served. He was fined $200 plus $30 in court costs and a $10 special assessment fee. He was also banned from YNP. This case was handled by YNP law enforcement rangers and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Hambrick.
Old Faithful is a cone geyser in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, United States. It was named in 1870 during the Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to be named. It is a highly predictable geothermal feature and has erupted every 44 minutes to two hours since 2000. The geyser and the nearby Old Faithful Inn are part of the Old Faithful Historic District.