Back in May, four filmmakers were caught on camera walking all over the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, sparking widespread outrage. This week, we found out that three of the men could potentially spend time in prison for their crime.
Since the initial photos and video were posted, a lot has happened in this case. First, the Internet quickly identified the then-unknown foursome as the Canadian filmmakers behind High On Life SundayFundayz, who posted (and then removed) an apology on their Facebook page. A criminal complaint and federal arrest warrants were then issued, but soon after quashed so that the men could re-enter the US without being immediately arrested.
Which finally brings us to the point we’re at this week.
According to the Jackson Hole News & Guide, one of the four men, Hamish Cross, plead guilty to foot travel in a thermal area and disorderly conduct, for which he has been sentenced to five years of unsupervised probation and has to pay an $8,000 fine. The other three—Justis Cooper Price-Brown, Alexey Andriyovych Lyakh, and Charles Ryker Gamble—plead not-guilty in order to have new counsel appointed due to a conflict of interest.
These are the three facing potential jail time according to their former lawyer, Thomas Fleener, who is still defending the young men publicly, saying the group are “completely misunderstood” and callin the whole ordeal “overblown.”
“They’re really nice, funny, smart 20-something professionals, and they travel around to show people how much fun they can have,” Fleener told the Jackson Hole newspaper. “They intended no harm in any of this.”
Intended harm or not, Fleener said the United States Attorney is considering jail time, something that will be decided in part on December 7th when the trio’s court-appointed attorneys meet with the judge to figure out what happens next. Depending on the plea deal they strike or the judge’s ruling, the remaining three defendants might spend some time in Big Horn County Detention Center for their stunt.
For their part, Yellowstone’s administrators are pleased with this week’s ruling, and anxious to see justice served in the remaining three cases.
“The judge’s decision today sends a very clear message about thermal feature protection and safety,” said Dan Wenk, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent. “Hamish Cross’s egregious actions damaged a world-class hot spring and risked his own life coupled with the lives of responding rangers. We look forward to the outcome of the case regarding the three remaining defendants.”