When Zachary Schossau was caught climbing on the rocks below the faces of Mount Rushmore, it was too late for an apology.
But he offered one anyway.
“I’m sorry dude!” said Schossau, according to a written report by a park ranger. “I was just doing it for the fun.”
As the world now knows, thanks to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota, Schossau was arrested and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and a $30 court processing fee for climbing in a closed area of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
Court documents reveal more about the incident, including Schossau’s apology. Internet research reveals that Schossau — who did not immediately respond to Rapid City Journal messages Tuesday — had performed as part of the Alive City band during the Hills Alive Christian music festival in Rapid City on the day before his arrest.
Schossau, 19, is from South Rockwood, Mich.
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His fun climb at Mount Rushmore was interrupted Sunday after a park ranger, Les Hanson, and another ranger were notified by a dispatcher that someone was climbing on the scree of waste rock below the carved faces. The climber was far below George Washington’s likeness, but was above the Youth Exploration Area, located just off the Presidential Trail hiking loop.
The area was marked as closed to the public by multiple fluorescent orange posts and metal reflective signs, Hanson wrote in his report. Nevertheless, Schossau was about 30 or 40 yards up the rocky slope when Hanson found him.
Although Hanson found Schossau’s apology memorable enough to include in a report of the incident, Hanson was not moved to the point of letting Schossau go free.
“Schossau was escorted off of the talus slope back to the trail, handcuffed, and escorted back to the Administration Building,” Hanson wrote.
Schossau was then taken to the Pennington County Jail, where he spent an unspecified amount of time until he appeared Monday in court and was granted the services of a public defender. Two of the three citations against Schossau, for trespassing and violating a closure, were dismissed. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollman ordered Schossau to pay a $1,000 fine and $30 court processing fee for the offense of “climbing Mount Rushmore.”