Badlands Butte Collapses Injuring Five

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Date: June 14, 2015
Contact: Julie Johndreau, 605-433-5242

Park Rangers received a 911 call at 7 pm last night reporting multiple injuries on the Door Trail. Several agencies, including Badlands Search and Rescue Team, Interior Volunteer Fire Department, Kadoka Ambulance, Jackson County Sheriff, and Life Flight Helicopter quickly responded.

Five hikers had fallen approximately six feet when the badlands butte they were climbing suddenly gave way under them. They had hiked off trail and climbed up the butte to pose for a photo. Without warning, the harder rock surface they were perched on gave way to the softer rocks beneath. The family members, including four minors and one eighteen year old female, all sustained injuries. One patient was transported by Life Flight Helicopter to Rapid City Regional Hospital. Two others with less serious injuries were transported to the hospital by ambulance. Two had minor injuries that were treated on scene.

Badlands has received higher than average precipitation this spring. The soils and formations are primarily composed of soft clays, siltstones, and claystones. Rock layers that appear solid are very easily eroded and may become unstable when saturated. Rain is a normal part of the erosion process that forms the park’s spectacular badland formations—and it can also weaken rock ledges and precipices.

“I want to urge all visitors to use extra caution when exploring the Badlands this year,” said park superintendent Eric Brunnemann. “Situations like this should remind us to dress appropriately with sturdy shoes and hiking gear. When emergencies occur, response time is critical for the park’s Search and Rescue Team and our local partners.” NPS Ranger and First Responder, Dan Baker, thanked everyone that came to the aid of this family. “As we face additional rain, road work, and increased visitation, we will remain adaptive, proactive, and rely on our training in all emergency situations.”

Last updated: June 14, 2015

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