Men who toppled ancient boulder get booted by Boy Scouts

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Story highlights

  • Man seen toppling rock claims "debilitating injuries" from car crash in recent lawsuit
  • Boy Scouts remove leaders recorded toppling an ancient stone in a Utah park
  • The men defended their actions, saying the rock was dangerously unstable
  • State officials say men may have broken the law by defacing a state park

Three men who toppled an ancient boulder in Utah's Goblin Valley State Park have been booted from their Boy Scout leadership roles.

Video of Glenn Taylor shoving the huge rock off a slender pedestal where its rested for millions of years went viral online and prompted media scrutiny. Taylor sang the rock song "Wiggle It, Just a Little Bit" as he pushed the delicate sculpture over, which was followed by laughter and high fives with his son.

David Hall, who shot the video and posted it on Facebook, and the two Taylors were leading a Boy Scout group on a visit to the park when the incident happened.

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.

"After reviewing this matter with the local chartered organization, these men have been removed from their leadership positions and are no longer members of the BSA," the national statement said.

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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."

The three men, all from Utah, defended their actions in interviews last week, saying the delicate structure posed a threat to visitors. But park officials suggested they broke the law by defacing a state park.

The attention has led to revelations that Taylor filed a personal-injury lawsuit in September, claiming he had suffered "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."

CNN Legal Analyst Danny Cevallos said when someone has a pending disability lawsuit, "You'd think they'd avoid the camera like the plague.

"But instead, they think no one will ever see it or repercussions will ever come of it," Cevallos said.

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.

"We have now modified Goblin Valley, a new Goblin Valley exists," Hall is heard saying at the end of his video. "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."

But 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.

Taylor has expressed regrets. "I wish we would have been smart enough to go get a ranger 'cause it was wrong of us to be vigilantes, and I'm sorry I did that," he told CNN affiliate KSTU.

"We thought we were doing a good deed," Taylor told the affiliate.

But the Emery County attorney or the Utah Attorney General may not agree, said Eugene Swalberg of Utah State Parks.

The men "are currently under criminal investigation," he said ont Friday. "It gives you a pit in your stomach. There seems to be a lot of happiness and joy with the individuals doing this, and it's not right. This is not what you do at a natural scenic area."