Couple pays $750 fine for Grand Canyon trip during shutdown - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Couple pays $750 fine for Grand Canyon trip during shutdown

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. But the government shutdown caused John and Laurie Boone's Grand Canyon excursion to become quite the hassle.

"We were going to do a 16-day, 225-mile Grand Canyon rafting trip and our launch day was Sept. 30. The day before the government shutdown," said John Boone, via Skype.

The couple was part of a larger 16-person group, and without knowing whether the shutdown would actually happen, they started their trip on Sept. 30.

"This was a bucket list item and it was finally coming to reality and we were very, very excited," said John Boone.

"He had been on the waiting list for 17 years to get this permit and we finally got it in the year of his 50th birthday, so it's huge," responded his wife, Laurie Boone.

Halfway through the trip, plans called for the group of 16 to switch out some of their rafters. Five people were allowed to leave, but their replacements were prohibited from entering the park. One person, though, was able to sneak in. 

"They did it illegally, and of course, the rangers were there to greet them when they crossed," said John Boone.

Rangers told the rafter he had to exit the park or face a fine. However, after much discussion, the group decided they needed the extra person to safely raft, and they told the ranger he would not leave.

"We were going to choose not to obey that request, we were both cited for disobeying the request of the park ranger," said John Boone.

"I mean we had to choose between the safety of 14 people or breaking the law. We had to take that risk. We could not make any other decision," said Laurie Boone.

John Boone and the new rafter faced a $20,000 fine, up to 30 days in jail and a five-year ban from federal parks. Fortunately, the trip ended safely and the fine was knocked down.

Monday, John Boone settled with the government for a $750 fine. The charges were dropped to those equal to a serious traffic violation.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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