By AMY BETH HANSON and THOMAS PEIPERT
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Part of a human foot found in a shoe floating in a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park earlier this week is believed to be linked to the death of a person last month, park officials said Friday.
The July 31 death is being investigated but officials do not suspect foul play, park officials said in a statement. The statement did not disclose details about how the death is believed to have happened, identify the person who died or say why officials do not suspect foul play.
The shoe was recovered from the park’s Abyss Pool on Tuesday after an employee spotted it, park officials said.
News of that discovery led a man from Maryland to contact the National Park Service to report that he and his family had spotted a shoe, floating sole up, in the hot spring on the morning of Aug. 11.
Chris Quinn of Pasadena, Maryland, said in an interview that he sent a photo of the shoe to the park service.
Park spokesperson Linda Veress said in an email that officials could not confirm whether the shoe that was found was the same type of shoe in Quinn’s photo.
Abyss Pool, west of the West Thumb area of Yellowstone Lake, is 53 feet (16 meters) deep and the temperature is about 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 Celsius), park officials said.
Park visitors are warned to stay on the boardwalks and trails in thermal areas, where some of the pools and springs have a thin, breakable crust covering the scalding and sometimes acidic water.
At least 22 people are known to have died from hot spring-related injuries in and around the 3,471-square-mile (9,000 square kilometer) national park since 1890, park officials have said.
The most recent death happened in June 2016 when a man from Portland, Oregon, left a boardwalk in the the park’s Norris Geyser Basin, slipped on gravel and fell into a boiling, acidic spring. No significant human remains were recovered.
The nation’s first national park has drawn more than 4 million visitors annually in recent years, with the exception of 2020, when it was briefly closed due to the pandemic.
Historic flooding forced the closure of the entire park for part of June. The park’s northern and northeastern entrances are still closed to vehicles.
Peipert reported from Denver.