Tourists jailed for reckless act caught on webcam

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Three tourists have been sentenced to prison for getting lost on a national park walking trail and going into a river to get a closer look at wildlife and take selfies.

David Engelman, 56, Ronald Engelman II, 54, and Steven Thomas, 30, all pleaded guilty to leaving the Brooks Falls viewing platform in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and waded in the river.

At the time of the incident, which happened in 2018, brown bears were feeding in the river.

A live camera captured David diving knee-deep in water and taking selfies with animals that are not known to be friendly.

Three men veered off the path of a national park in Alaska and found themselves in water where bears were feeding. Source: YouTube

“These individuals behaved carelessly and put themselves in danger,” Katmai National Park and Preserve Superintendent Mark Sturm said.

“Brown bears are fierce territorial predators, especially when concentrated to feed on migrating salmon.

“Things could easily have ended very badly.”

Attorney S. Lane Tucker said in a statement that the three men not only endangered themselves, other visitors and wildlife officers, but also potentially the lives of bears.

As a result of the incident, the three men were sentenced to prison and thousands in fines.

David and Ronald each received a one-week jail sentence, one year probation and a $3,000 (A$4,200) fine. Steven Thomas will be in jail for 10 days and will also be on probation for a year and will pay $3,000.

The three men are banned from entering a national park for a year.

Each of the three men will serve time in prison and pay thousands in fines.  Source: YouTube

Each of the three men will serve time in prison and pay thousands in fines. Source: YouTube

In imposing sentences, Magistrate Judge Scoble considered the prospect of tourists being deterred and the impact of tourism in the national park if someone had been injured, or a bear killed if the one of the men was injured.

People who witnessed the three men’s actions reportedly said the waterfall ruined their experience at Katmai National Park.

The men’s actions were described as “drunk capers and a slap in the face to those who were there” by the judge.

Fines of $9,000 will be returned to Katmai Conservancy.

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