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Health care official arrested for illegal hike of 153 people in Grand Canyon
Washington state man faces federal charges for allegedly staging a largely unmasked and non-socially remote hike of 153 people through the Grand Canyon that not only violated COVID-19 restrictions, but also boundaries normal group sizes. , who until recently was the chief operating officer of a medical clinic in Chehalis, Wash., is also accused of lying to National Park Service officials about his plans, which included transporting two buses and three vans to and since the October 2020 event, according to a criminal complaint made public on May 5 in Arizona federal court. An administrator at the Steck Clinic has confirmed that Mount is no longer working there.To minimize the environmental impact, rim-to-rim hikes like the one Mount is accused of doing are strictly limited to groups of 30 people. or less since 2014. Efforts to stem the COVID pandemic, edge-to-edge treks have since been limited to 11 people. Mount suggested that all trip participants bring walkie-talkies to coordinate to avoid being seen in a large group, park ranger Timothy Hopp said in an affidavit attached to the complaint. or fictitious report; intentionally interfere with any government employee in the performance of their official duties; soliciting business in a park without a permit; violate the normal group size limit; and violating the size limits of the COVID-19 mitigation group, Mount said he was not aware of the charges until The Daily Beast contacted him for comment on Wednesday. when hiking in a group, “live and breathe the outdoors”. “With COVID and everything, people just couldn’t wait to get out,” Mount continued. “I didn’t do it for profit. People had already bought plane tickets and made plans. I would say about a third to a half were single parents and had arranged childcare. Mount rebuffed allegations that he violated park policy or federal law, saying anything he did with a group of more than 10 people took place outside of the park. facebook.com/photo.php? fbid = 10224967224154176 & set = pb.1423503533.-2207520000 .. & type = 3 Park rangers learned of Mount’s plan about a month ago, according to court documents. A concerned citizen emailed the Grand Canyon permit office “to complain about a hiking party of over 100” that was scheduled to start crossing the canyon on October 24. The person sent screenshots to a Facebook group with details of the plan by Mount, which was charging $ 95 per head for the trip. One of the messages read: “112 COMMITTED HIKERS FROM 12 DIFFERENT STATES !!!” according to the complaint. “[I]If you want to keep inviting friends, I’m determined to make it work for as many who want to go! In another article, Mount, a former Eagle Scout, reportedly advised a participant to take “precautions … not to draw attention to such a large group on the trail.” Natural spread might be best. Will research further and feature details / meetups / hike plans in messages to follow over the next few weeks. Mount had been in contact with the parks department about obtaining a permit and had been told “on several occasions of the group size limit.” complaint said. But Mount “continued to defy park regulations” and continued to “plan, manage, direct and recruit participants for the rim-to-rim hiking event,” according to the complaint. in groups of less than 10 people and simply have everyone back down when they are done. “I had a couple of cousins that I hiked with, saw people on the trail that I knew, but I had my party of 10 or less, left the park and was returned to my accommodation on the north side, ”Mount told the Daily Beast. Weeks after the warning emailed to the concerned citizen, a federal ranger managed to access the hike’s Facebook group, where Mount was located to post updates. Alarmed that the hike – which had 170 registered participants at the time – still seemed to be going as planned, another ranger contacted Mount to remind him of the size restrictions. Mount insisted to the ranger that he only intended to take a “small group” of close rugby associates and family friends, the complaint says. Http://www.facebook.com/photo.php? Fbid = 10224967164832693 & set = pb.1423503533.-2207520000 .. & type = 3The next day, Mount reportedly posted a message in the Facebook group, titled: “IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT.” He said he got a “call from Ranger Hopp,” who “said the size of the R2R groups must be 11 people or less.” Mount said he should keep a low profile in the weeks leading up to the trip and appeared to present a plan, with a wink and a nod, to overturn the rules, according to the filing. a park manager telling me I can’t hike the R2R with more than 11 people won’t stop me from doing one of the most beautiful hikes in [sic] the planet, ”he told the group. “Remember, there’s nothing stopping you from hiking the Grand Canyon on this day. Nothing prevents you from doing a little research to be the best prepared. However, now there is a target on my back and this is the best way for me to keep hiking R2R and not be tied to any of you. Mount suggested that everyone avoid being seen with more than 10 other people, and recommended that they wear a walkie. – interveners “as part of YOUR OWN individual hiking group” to coordinate, according to the complaint. “I will not provide them because again – it binds me to you WHILE IN THE CANYON.” Final list. Check it out, ”says the complaint, which claims Mount has posted a series of“ MUST BRING ITEMS ”including headlamps, hiking boots and a“ positive, “can do, will” attitude. They slept in cabins during their stay, and Mount told attendees, “Check in through me, not reception.” Https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10224967173952921&set=pb.1423503533.- 2207520000 .. & type = 3On the first day of the hike, Hopp, the ranger who had been in contact with Mount, observed about 50 people mingling at a water station at the trailhead, according to court documents. [me] that they were part of the “Mount Group” and expected to be picked up by a passenger bus on the South Rim, ”Hopp wrote in his affidavit. “However, almost all of the groups were extremely reluctant to talk about their plans, their leader and their event.” During the same period, the record indicates that another ranger, identified in court documents as Andrew Sprutta, was in civilian clothes and saw between 200 and 250 people departing from the same starting point. “Many hikers have told me they were part of a large group of a [sic] 100 or more everywhere, ”he says. [sic] testifies to so many individuals traveling in the same direction in such a condensed period of time and space. Https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10224967186113225&set=pb.1423503533.-2207520000..&type=3 The group “Fragmented into clusters as it continued through the canyon,” the complaint states. A fourth ranger cited in the file said that each individual group “did not interact, avoid talking to each other or pretend not to know each other. [other] until they leave. The hikers were using small radios to communicate between groups, the ranger said. Mount insisted his intentions were not bad and his advice was for security reasons. When a group of hikers were stopped by a ranger patrolling the start of the Bright Angel Trail, a man in the group said they were part of a large expedition led by Mount. After confessing, the man allegedly slapped the ranger on the shoulder and admitted that he was not supposed to tell him this. Visitors named in the complaint said the hikers did not maintain any kind of social distancing, did not wear no masks and appeared to do so. be part of an organized group. Another ranger said that when they encountered groups of 10 or less, not all members knew each other, and a spreadsheet posted to the Facebook group that the rangers looked at seemed to indicate that Mount was not doing it for money, according to the complaint. . After raising $ 15,185 from attendees, Mount said he shelled out $ 15,120 for two charter buses, three passenger vans, accommodations, tips and incidentals. He would make a profit of $ 65.11, Mount told the group, that he said he would invest in a new pair of hiking poles. After the hike was completed, the rangers continued to monitor the group’s activities. . Following the event, the complaint states that one of the hikers who had been on the trip posted a message on Facebook reading, “I think Joe did a fantastic job. How about giving “ our guide ” a bonus for all the extra work he did to plan a [sic] weekend of memories !!! Another participant reportedly replied: “[The] the least we can do is Venmo Joe Mount $ 10 to put together this experience. Register now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.