SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah authorities are mulling whether to press charges against a man 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.
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, Glenn Taylor of Highland, Utah, can be seen 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. It's disturbing and upsetting."
Taylor told Salt Lake City news organizations on Thursday that he knocked over the large boulder on top of the structure because it was loose and he thought it would fall and hurt someone.
"I put my hand on a rock and it moved," Taylor told the Tribune. "While we were sitting right there we thought, 'Man if this rock falls it'll kill them.' I didn't have to push hard."
He said afterward he knocked the formation over, he wished he hadn't and he realized he should have contacted a park ranger. But he also said he feels he did the right thing.
"As it is, I feel guilty because I have a conscience," he told the Deseret News. "But my conscience also says I did the right thing."
Swalberg said State Parks authorities are conducting a criminal investigation.
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 told the Tribune.
"Some things can't be replaced, like photographs in a family album, but they have great sentimental value," he said.
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