SALT LAKE CITY — The Boy Scout leaders in Utah who took video of themselves pushing over a large stone continue to defend their actions and claim they may have even saved lives.
The Salt Lake City video of Glenn Taylor shoving a huge rock off a slender pedestal where it rested for millions of years in Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park went viral online and prompted media scrutiny.
Goblin Valley, in southern Utah, is home to thousands of the mushroom-shaped rocks — known to locals as goblins — that developed as millions of years of winds and water eroded sandstone cliffs.
As his friend sang “Wiggle it, just a little bit,” Taylor pushed the delicate sculpture over, which was followed by laughter and high fives with his son.
“We have now modified Goblin Valley, a new Goblin Valley exists,” David Hall, who shot the video, is heard saying at the end of it. “That’s crazy that it was held up just by that little bit of dirt. Some little kid was about ready to walk down here and die and Glenn saved his life by getting the boulder out of the way. So it’s all about saving lives here at Goblin Valley. Saving lives. That’s what we’re all about.”
Hall told Utah television station KUTV that the boulder seemed unstable. “That wasn’t going to last very long at all,” he told the CNN affiliate. “One gust of wind and a family’s dead.”
Asked if he would do it again, he said, “Absolutely, absolutely.”
Still, for their actions, all three have been booted from their Boy Scout leadership roles.
The National Boy Scouts of America and the organization’s Utah National Parks Council issued almost simultaneous and similar statements Monday addressing the men’s actions.
The local council statement said the former leaders violated the Scouts’ principle of “Leave no trace,” which it said “teaches the value of natural areas and the methods we can use to help protect and conserve these areas for future generations.”
Park officials suggested the men broke the law by defacing a state park.
Jeff Rasmussen, the deputy director of Utah State Parks and Recreation, said, “It didn’t look like a stiff wind to me.”
“Obviously, we’re very concerned and upset that somebody would come and destroy this natural wonder that took millions of years to be formed,” he told KUTV.
In his 22 years on the job, he said he had not heard of any goblins rolling off their pedestals.
Meanwhile, CNN and KTVX-TV learned that Glenn Taylor filed a personal injury lawsuit just a few weeks before the incident, claiming he suffers from “serious, permanent and debilitating injuries” from a 4-year-old car crash.
Someone with a bad back who’s disabled, who can’t enjoy life, to me, doesn’t step up and push a rock that big off the base,” the defendant in Taylor’s lawsuit, Alan MacDonald, told Salt Lake City television station KTVX.
Taylor’s lawyer did not return calls for comment. But when CNN affiliate KUTV noted that Taylor didn’t look particularly debilitated in the video, he replied, “You didn’t see how hard I pushed.”