PHOENIX — “Do we really need to say, ‘don’t hit golf balls into the Grand Canyon?’”
That’s what Grand Canyon National Park posted on social media one day after a social media influencer posted a video of herself golfing on the edge of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, east of Mather Point.
In the video, which appeared on 20-year-old Katie Sigmond’s accounts on Oct. 26, Sigmond hit a golf ball and subsequently lost most of her club when the driver’s shaft flew into the canyon after the ball.
Social media users were quick to share Sigmond’s stunt on platforms such as Reddit, where a screen recording of Sigmond’s Snapchat Story garnered more than 900 comments. Commenters condemned Sigmond for littering as well as endangering people and wildlife below her. The influencer – who has a combined 10 million followers across TikTok and Instagram – was going viral for the wrong reasons and she appeared to delete the posts.
After receiving tips about the incident, Grand Canyon law enforcement identified and contacted Sigmond within a day of her posting the golfing video. The National Park Service intended to charge her with three misdemeanor offenses.
"This is obviously an issue that we take really seriously," Joëlle Baird, Grand Canyon public affairs specialist, told USA TODAY in October. "Anytime we have individuals throwing, launching objects over the rim, there obviously is a public safety element of potential hikers wildlife being below. Then also, of course, the littering aspect of throwing objects into the canyon."
Here's how much the TikTok star who hit a golf ball into Grand Canyon will pay
Sigmond received three federal violation notices – which are tickets issued by law enforcement departments for U.S. agencies such as the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service – and was charged with three Class B misdemeanors as detailed under Title 36 in the Code of Federal Regulations.
The three charges were for tossing items into the Grand Canyon, littering and creating hazardous conditions with disorderly conduct. She was only cited for disorderly conduct and tossing or throwing items into the canyon, which carry a maximum fine of $5,000 and six months in prison, according to a copy of the written record of the collateral forfeiture agreement that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona provided to The Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY Network. Baird said prior to Sigmond's court date for cases for these, jail time is unlikely.
Sigmond was ordered to pay a $285 fine, which includes $60 in processing fees. A spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts confirmed to The Republic that the Central Violations Bureau received two payments of $155 and $130 from Katie Sigmond on Nov. 15.
Though Sigmond initially faced an appearance at the U.S. District Court in Flagstaff, her case was resolved through a collateral forfeiture agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona. In other words, she paid fines for the misdemeanor charges to the Texas-based Central Violations Bureau, which processes tickets and payments for “petty offenses committed on federal property,” according to its website.
This closed Sigmond’s case with no convictions on her record. She did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
People keep throwing items into the Grand Canyon
Sigmond is far from the only person to pitch something into the Grand Canyon.
In October 2021, a visitor was pictured hitting baseballs from the Yavapai Geology Museum on the South Rim. After the National Park Service solicited tips to identify the person, he contacted NPS law enforcement to identify himself, Baird told The Republic.
It’s not clear whether the man was cited for his actions.
Baird told The Republic that the NPS is aware that these kinds of stunts are occurring at the Grand Canyon and has received similar videos to Sigmond’s.
“It’s unfortunate that it happens,” she said.
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Follow KiMi Robinson on Twitter: @kimirobin.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: TikTok star fined for hitting golf ball into Grand Canyon