Gabriel Villalva, 27, was caught on video at the edge of the geyser. A park ranger could be heard yelling at him to return to the boardwalk, where tourists are required to remain while visiting the geyser. Villalva largely ignored the commands, stood before the rim, and at one point appeared to urinate.
“He’s peeing!” a bystander said in the video. “I don’t even know what to say.”
The footage also showed Villalva getting onto his belly and peering into the geyser, which routinely releases near-boiling water and scalding steam.
“A bunch of the crowd thought he was going to jump,” Michigan resident Ashley Lemanski, who shot the footage, told The Associated Press. “We didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Villalva was “noncompliant” as he was arrested in the parking lot after the incident, singing and smoking until officers threatened him with a stun gun, Buckrail reported. He’s been charged with disorderly conduct, walking off-trail in a thermal area and two counts of interfering with agency function.
“We take these cases very seriously,” Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk told ABC Fox Montana. “The law requires people to stay on boardwalks or marked trails in thermal areas. Anyone who ignores this law risks their life and possibly the lives of emergency personnel.”
According to the Casper Star Tribune, Villalva was released on bond and has a court date on Nov. 8.
Old Faithful’s waters can hit temperatures of 204 degrees while its steam can reach 350 degrees. In 2016, a tourist died and his body was dissolved in the acidic water after he left the trail and tried to bathe in one of the park’s hot springs.