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," Dave Hall, who shot the video, told the Associated Press on Friday. "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 park in central Utah is dotted with thousands of the eerie, mushroom shaped sandstone formations.
In a video posted on Facebook, scoutmaster Glenn Taylor of Highland, Utah, can be seen on Oct. 11 wedging himself between one 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.
"This is highly, highly inappropriate," Swalberg told the Salt Lake Tribune. "This is not what you do at state parks."
Hall, who is also a scoutmaster from Highland, said some of their Scouts were jumping on the structures and they noticed a large boulder on top of one structure was loose. "My conscience won't let me walk away knowing that kids could die," Hall said.
While safety was their motivation, Hall said, it was exciting to knock it over, and that's why they reacted with cheers in the video.
Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement that the organization is "shocked and disappointed by this reprehensible behavior." He said Boy Scout troops spend countless hours in parks, guided by the principle of leaving nature the way they find it.
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Formation is gone
To see video of the rock formation being toppled, go to Links in today's Times at tampabay.com.