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Woman, 20, suffers horrific burns while trying to save dog from 190°F thermal spring at Yellowstone

A 20-year-old woman has suffered horrific burns to 90 percent of her body after jumping into a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park to try to rescue her dog.

Laiha Slayton and her father, Woodraw, were visiting the park on Tuesday and had parked 20-30 yards away from Maiden’s Grave Spring, next to the Firehole River, her sister Kamilla told DailyMail.com.

The family’s two Shih Tzus, Rusty and Chevy, were wandering around nearby while Laiha was looking for their leashes in the car. 

Rusty suddenly got his foot burned by a small leak from the geyser that flows into the river. The dog then panicked and fell in to the spring while Woodrow was trying to gain control of Chevy. 

Laiha jumped in to the thermal spring – which can reach temperatures of 190-degree Fahrenheit – in a bid to rescue her one-year-old puppy, and then had to be rescued herself by her father. 

Laiha, from Washington state, suffered third degree burns to her body from her shoulders to her feet.

Her father drove her to West Yellowstone, Montana, to seek help and she was flown by helicopter to the burn unit at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, park officials said in a statement Tuesday.  

Woodrow suffered a burn to his foot and also required treatment.

The puppy, Rusty, was taken to a veterinarian but it did not survive its wounds.

Laiha Slayton, 20, is in a medically-induced coma for the next two weeks as she recovers from her third degree burns after rescuing her dog from a hot spring in Yellowstone, Wyoming on Tuesday, her family say

Laiha suffered third-degree thermal burns on about '90 percent of her body' while she was trying to save her Shih Tzu, Rusty, who jumped into a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park

Laiha suffered third-degree thermal burns on about ’90 percent of her body’ while she was trying to save her Shih Tzu, Rusty, who jumped into a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park

Rusty, the Shih Tzu puppy, was taken to a veterinarian but did not survive from its wounds

Rusty, the Shih Tzu puppy, was taken to a veterinarian but did not survive from its wounds

Maiden's Grave Hot Spring flowing into the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park, where Laiha and her dog reportedly fell into and suffered burns

Maiden’s Grave Hot Spring flowing into the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park, where Laiha and her dog reportedly fell into and suffered burns

Laiha is currently in a medically-induced coma for the next two weeks, according to a GoFundMe page that was organized by her sister to pay for medical bills. 

Laiha’s palms are also ‘completely gone,’ according to Kamilla, who says that her sister will have to require further surgery, meaning that she will be in the hospital for a ‘few months’.    

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Slayton’s GoFundMe page had raised $12,377 out of a $45,000 goal to pay for expenses including medical costs and cremation services for the puppy.

Yellowstone National Park officials posted about the incident on their Facebook page, and warned visitors to stay away from the hot springs.

Their post read: ‘The ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin, and there is scalding water just below the surface. Everyone must remain on boardwalks and trails and exercise extreme caution around thermal features.

‘While in the park, protect your pets by physically controlling them at all times. Pets must be in a car, crate or on a leash no more than six feet long. They are not allowed on boardwalks, hiking trails, in the backcountry, or in thermal areas.’ 

Laiha is the second woman who burned herself in a Yellowstone thermal feature in recent weeks. 

On September 16, a 19-year-old woman—a concessions employee at the park—from Rhode Island suffered second and third degree burns to 5 percent of her body after falling into thermal water near the world famous Old Faithful geyser.

Due to medical privacy laws, it is unknown exactly how many visitors have been injured from ignoring the cautionary signs. 

In October 2020, a three -year-old suffered second degree thermal burns to their lower body after running from a designated trail and slipping and falling into a small thermal feature.

In May of the same year, a visitor who entered the park illegally while it was closed due to the Covid pandemic also ended up falling into a thermal feature while backing up to take a photo at Old Faithful.

Since the park’s establishment in 1872, there have been around 20 reported deaths due to some sort of interaction with park thermal areas.

Slayton is the second person who has suffered severe burns in a Yellowstone (pictured) thermal feature in recent weeks

Slayton is the second person who has suffered severe burns in a Yellowstone (pictured) thermal feature in recent weeks

Around 20 people have died due to some sort of interaction with park thermal areas since the park's establishment in 1872, according to the USG

Around 20 people have died due to some sort of interaction with park thermal areas since the park’s establishment in 1872, according to the USG

That number is significantly higher than the eight deaths over the same period due to encounters with grizzly bears, the United States Geological Survey reports. 

The most recent fatality at the park came in August 2000, when one person died and two others suffered severe burns after falling from a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin. 

Yellowstone has more than 10,000 thermal features, which can be as hot as 280 degrees Fahrenheit (138 Celsius).

The national park was briefly closed in May 2020 due to COVID reasons, but National Park Services reported that it has hosted 483,159 recreation visits in May 2021.

It’s an 11 percent increase compared to May 2019 (434,385 recreation visits) and the park’s most visited May on record.

So far, there have been more visitors coming to Yellowstone in 2021 than over each of the last three years. National Park Services reported that Yellowstone has hosted 483,159 recreation visits in May 2021 — an 11 percent increase compared to May 2019 (434,385 recreation visits) and the park’s most visited May on record

So far, there have been more visitors coming to Yellowstone in 2021 than over each of the last three years. National Park Services reported that Yellowstone has hosted 483,159 recreation visits in May 2021 — an 11 percent increase compared to May 2019 (434,385 recreation visits) and the park’s most visited May on record

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