Utah authorities are mulling whether to press charges against a Boy Scouts leader who purposely knocked over an ancient Utah desert rock formation and the two men who cheered him on after they posted video of the incident online.
Two of the men, who were leading a group of 14 to 16-year-old Boy Scouts on a trip, said the top of the rock formation was loose and they feared it was dangerous.
“This is about saving lives,” said Dave Hall, who shot the video. “One rock at a time.”
The rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park is about 170 million years old, Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg said. The state park 49 miles southwest of Green River, not far from the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park, is dotted with thousands of the eerie, mushroom shaped sandstone formations called “hoo doos.”
Brent Langston with the Emery County Attorney’s Office said his agency is aware of the incident has not yet started evaluating whether they’ll file charges.
The men involved could face a misdemeanor or a felony depending on how much officials determine the formation was worth, Langston said.
“Some things can’t be replaced, like photographs in a family album, but they have great sentimental value,” he said.
The men have now been removed from their posts as Boy Scout leaders.
A northern Utah Boy Scouts council announced Monday, Oct. 21 that Glenn Taylor and Dave Hall will no longer be allowed to lead scouting troops due to what happened Oct. 11 at Goblin Valley State Park.
The move comes on the heels of the national Boy Scouts of America condemning the men’s actions last week and promising a review of the incident. The Boy Scouts’ Utah National Parks Council posted a statement on its website saying the men’s actions are not in line with the principles the organization teaches about preserving nature.
“We encourage all leaders and Scouts to review the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles, as we are all a part of maintaining the integrity, character and the natural beauty of the outdoors for all living things,” the statement said.
Hall and Taylor came under fire last week after posting a video on Facebook where Taylor can be seen wedging himself between a formation and a boulder to knock a large rock off the formation’s top. Taylor and his two companions can then be seen cheering, high-fiving and dancing.
Hall said they found out about losing their Boy Scouts positions Monday morning. They had been troop leaders for a few years, Hall said, and hope to continue to be involved in organization in the future using what happened as a teaching point. Both men are from Highland, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City.
“We’ve always supported the Boy Scouts and if that’s what they feel is best, we support that decision,” Hall said. “We’re extremely sorry for our mistake. We look forward to doing everything we can to make it right and move on.”
Taylor is also facing questions over a personal injury lawsuit he filed a month before the incident.
Taylor sued Alan MacDonald in September, claiming his daughter caused a 2009 car crash that left him with debilitating injuries.
MacDonald said he questions whether Taylor’s back injuries were as serious as claimed after watching him in the video.
“In the video, I see a big strong guy who steps up to a 2,000-pound rock and dislodges it, and I just think to myself, ‘that guy doesn’t have a bad back,'” MacDonald said.
Taylor’s attorney, Mark Stubbs, said that the video may not play well to a jury, but it’s only one piece of a larger case. He said just because his client is beginning to recover from his back injuries does not mean he hasn’t suffered past pain.
Taylor’s medical bills stemming from the accident could continue for years, Stubbs added. According to his suit, Taylor has incurred some $5,000 in medical-related expenses.
The complaint alleges MacDonald’s daughter rear-ended several cars — including Taylor’s — causing him to “endure great pain and suffering, disability, impairment and loss of joy of life.”