TikTok influencer fined after hitting golf ball into Grand Canyon

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Phone cameras were rolling, so the TikTok influencer bent her knees, adjusted her stance, and swung her club at a golf ball placed on the edge of a precipice in the Grand Canyon. The ball shot up. So did the club, after it flew out of her hand.

“How come?” asked the text on the clip, which was recorded on Oct. 26 and posted to TikTok the same day.

However, authorities seemed to have another question after watching the video: Who was responsible for the litter in one of the country’s most iconic national parks?

Tips came in and the police soon had a name: Katie Sigmond, an influencer with about seven million followers on TikTok who posts workout and modeling videos, as well as clips highlighting her golfing at driving ranges and courses.

However, her golf swing in the Grand Canyon soon drew criticism, including from park officials.

“Do we really have to say, ‘Don’t hit golf balls into the Grand Canyon?'” Grand Canyon National Park said on Instagram.

In addition to criticism, the stunt also resulted in legal trouble for Ms. Sigmond, who eventually admitted to park rangers that she was the one in the video, according to Joelle Baird, a spokeswoman for the Grand Canyon National Park’s Office of Public Affairs.

Ms Baird said Ms Sigmond, 20, was initially charged with littering, throwing objects into the Grand Canyon and creating dangerous conditions with disorderly conduct. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona recently resolved her case through an out-of-court settlement that resulted in a fine, Ms. Baird said.

She did not know which charges were eventually included in the deal, and the federal prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Ms Baird said she did not know the amount of the fine. But in similar cases, fines can be as high as about $280, she said. The Arizona Republic reported Thursday on news of Ms. Sigmond’s fine.

Ms Sigmond did not respond to an email asking for comment on Saturday. The video of her golf swing at the Grand Canyon appears to have been removed from her social media pages.

The episode marked the latest instance of visitors misbehaving at the Grand Canyon, an event that has historically motivated park officials to publicly mock the actions of those who disrespect the treasured, eroded landscape.

Last September, the park posted a photo of a padlock placed on a fence near the Grand Canyon with the inscription “Alex + Cas.” The agency found no romantic value in it, writing: “You may think your love padlock on the park fence is clever, but it won’t stand the test of time for our bolt cutters.” The post mentioned the potential dangers to wildlife.

The Park Service faced a less rosy problem in October 2020 when it reported a spike in “the amount of human waste on (or just off) the trail” at the Grand Canyon.

“Nobody else should be handling your waste,” it said. And last summer, Grand Canyon park rangers had a simple message to those who tossed their cigarettes on the dry mineral soil: “Fat horn sheepheads are cute! But cigarette butts, not so much.”

Ms Baird said park rangers had also dealt with people throwing baseballs, footballs and other objects into the canyon.

“You name it, and people throw it across the divide,” she said, adding that “it’s one of these things that unfortunately happens over and over again.”

Grand Canyon officials said Ms. Sigmond threw her club and hit the golf ball near Mather Point, which offers a panoramic view of the canyon’s multiple layers of exposed rock.

“Throwing objects over the rim of the canyon is not only illegal, but can also pose a danger to hikers and wildlife below,” park officials said.

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