Joseph Don Mount, the previous chief working officer at Chehalis, Washington, spent months planning and organizing for the Oct. 24 hike, regardless of being advised it was in violation of park guidelines, authorities say.
Earlier than the pandemic, group sizes had been restricted to not more than 30 individuals. That quantity was decreased to 11 when the pandemic hit.
Park officers had been tipped off concerning the hike forward of time. An individual who alerted them despatched screenshots from a Fb group the place Mount allegedly mentioned individuals from throughout the nation had signed up for the occasion.
In line with an affidavit seen by Fox Information, officers contacted Mount who mentioned he would solely be mountain climbing with 10 of his good friend and members of the family. He then allegedly advised the Fb group that individuals wanted to be discreet and manage themselves in smaller teams – a violation of park guidelines.
On the day of the hike, park rangers reportedly noticed teams exceeding 11 individuals, reaching as excessive as 70 in a sure space of the park.
Ranger Cody Allinson wrote within the affidavit that he had by no means “witnessed so many people touring in the identical path in such a condensed time period and house.”
Allinson mentioned few if anybody was carrying a facemask or socially distancing. When he requested sure teams how they knew one another, they reportedly advised him that “they solely knew just a few individuals of their group however wouldn’t clarify how they met.”
Different hikers who weren’t affiliated with the group complained that the route took them longer to complete.
Authorities say Mount collected 1000’s in charges from the collaborating hikers. He’s charged with giving a false report, deliberately interfering with a authorities worker, soliciting enterprise and not using a allow, violating exercise restrictions and violating coronavirus restrictions.
Fox Information couldn’t attain Mount for remark Thursday.