Former medical group COO charged in connection with 153-person Grand Canyon hike

The former COO of Chehalis, Wash.-based Steck Medical Group has been charged for allegedly leading a 153-person hiking trip through the Grand Canyon National Park and charging fees to participate in October, according to a May 6 report by The Washington Post.

Eight things to know:

  1. Park rangers warned Joseph Don Mount that his plan to lead a hiking group violated the park's rules against groups larger than 11 people on Oct. 8, according to a federal affidavit filed on May 4.

  2. Mr. Mount was allegedly advertising the excursion on Facebook and collecting $95 fees to fund the trip.

  3. Two weeks later, Mr. Mount and more than 150 other people allegedly hiked the Grand Canyon — with many participants not wearing masks or observing social distancing guidelines.

  4. Mr. Mount faces five federal charges for allegedly lying to park officials, conducting business in the park without a permit and violating COVID-19 restrictions.

  5. He told the Daily Beast that he did not think he had broken any rules because the large group broke into smaller groups during the hike, according to the Post.

  6. Groups hiking the rim-to-rim path cannot exceed 11 people. Even before the pandemic, groups could be no larger than 30 to protect the trails, and most organized groups with more than 11 people required a permit. The park does not allow larger groups to break up into smaller ones to accommodate the size limits.

  7. Ranger Cody Allinson said: "At peak of visitation, there were approximately 70 people within … an area which is roughly the size of half a basketball court. In my seven months of work … I have never … witnessed so many individuals traveling in the same direction in such a condensed period of time and space."

  8. Mr. Mount is no longer working for the Washington medical group, and his LinkedIn account says his position ended in April.

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