Woman Severely Burned Trying To Save Dog From Near-Boiling Hot Spring

A 20-year-old woman was hospitalized with severe burns this week after attempting to rescue her dog from a thermal hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.

Laiha Slayton visited the park with her father and two dogs on Oct. 4, East Idaho News reported. Her father, Woodraw, was helping his daughter move from Washington to Ohio, where she was slated to start a new job, and they took a side trip to Yellowstone on the way.

After they parked, Laiha was grabbing the leashes for the two Shih Tzus, Rusty and Chevy, when Rusty got away from her and ended up in the scalding water of a thermal hot spring.

The National Park Service identified the spring as Maiden’s Grave Spring, where the water temperature is 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Maiden's Grave Spring, where water temperatures are about 200 degrees Fahrenheit, by the Firehole RIver on the Fountain Flats Drive in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
Maiden’s Grave Spring, where water temperatures are about 200 degrees Fahrenheit, by the Firehole RIver on the Fountain Flats Drive in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

on G. Fuller/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Laiha jumped into the water to rescue the dog, and her father subsequently reached in to pull his daughter from the water. Laiha was flown to an Idaho hospital. Rusty was taken to a veterinarian but died from his injuries.

Laiha’s sister, Kamilla, has been providing updates on her condition on a fundraising page for the family that a GoFundMe rep verified to YakTriNews. Kamilla wrote on Wednesday that Laiha, who had been put into a medically induced coma, was “stable” and “healing slowly.” Doctors originally thought her burns, which covered around 90% of her body, were half second-degree and half third-degree, but a closer examination revealed they were largely second-degree.

“This means that our dad pulled her out insanely fast,” Kamilla wrote. “She’s incredibly lucky. Dad saved her life. Please send love and praise his way. She was in the scalding water for about 8 seconds.”

Woodraw was receiving treatment for burns to his foot that he suffered while pulling his daughter from the spring. Kamilla also noted that the other dog, Chevy, is OK and “handling things well, all things considered.”

In its statement, the park service said the incident is “under investigation.” It also noted that pets are prohibited on “boardwalks, hiking trails, in the backcountry, or in thermal areas.” This has been the second significant injury in a thermal area of Yellowstone this year, after a 19-year-old concessions worker at the park suffered second and third-degree burns at Old Faithful in September.

There have also multiple similar incidents in recent years, including the death of a man who left a designated boardwalk area and slipped and fell into a hot spring at the park’s Norris Geyser Basin. In that case, the remains of the man’s body were largely dissolved by the hot acidic water.

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