May 21, 2024


It's the Technology

TikTok Influencer Is Fined After Hitting a Golf Ball Into the Grand Canyon

TikTok Influencer Is Fined After Hitting a Golf Ball Into the Grand Canyon

Phone cameras were rolling, so the TikTok influencer bent her knees, adjusted her stance and swung her club at a golf ball that had been placed near the edge of a precipice at the Grand Canyon. The ball soared. The club did, too, after it flew out of her hand.

“How did that happen,” asked the text on the clip, which was recorded on Oct. 26 and posted on TikTok the same day.

The authorities, however, appeared to have another question after viewing the video: Who was responsible for littering at one of the country’s most iconic national parks?

Tips came in, and law enforcement 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 golf game at driving ranges and courses.

Her golf swing at the Grand Canyon, however, quickly drew criticism, including from park officials.

“Do we really need to say, ‘don’t hit golf balls into the Grand Canyon?’” the 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 had been the one in the video, according to Joelle Baird, a spokeswoman for Grand Canyon National Park’s Office of Public Affairs.

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

She did not know which charges were ultimately included in the agreement, 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 reach roughly $280, she said. The Arizona Republic reported on the news of Ms. Sigmond’s fine on Thursday.

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

The episode was the latest case of visitors misbehaving at the Grand Canyon, an occurrence that, in the past, has motivated park officials to publicly deride the actions of those who fail to respect the treasured, eroded landscape.

In September of last year, the park posted a photo of a padlock that had been placed on a fence at the Grand Canyon with an inscription of “Alex + Cas.” The agency did not find any romantic value in it, writing, “You may think your padlock of love left on the park fence is clever, but it won’t stand the test of time to our bolt cutters.” The post cited the potential dangers to wildlife.

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

“No one else should need to handle your waste,” it said. And last summer, rangers at the Grand Canyon had a simple message to those tossing their cigarettes on the dry mineral soil: “Bighorn sheep butts are cute! But cigarette butts, not so much.”

Ms. Baird said rangers had also dealt with people tossing baseballs, soccer balls and other objects into the canyon.

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

Grand Canyon officials said Ms. Sigmond had tossed 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 endanger hikers and wildlife who may be below,” park officials said.