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Utah men behind Goblin Valley video receive death threats from strangers, rebuke from BSA

Published: Friday, Oct. 18 2013 8:20 p.m. MDT

Since a video showing two men toppling an iconic rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park went viral, a barrage of hate mail and death threats has rained down on the Utah Boy Scout leaders. (Dave Hall) Since a video showing two men toppling an iconic rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park went viral, a barrage of hate mail and death threats has rained down on the Utah Boy Scout leaders. (Dave Hall)

HIGHLAND — Since a video showing two men toppling an iconic rock formation in Goblin Valley State Park went viral, a barrage of hate mail and death threats has rained down on the Utah Boy Scout leaders.

Hundreds of online messages promising violent revenge, sent through email and social media, have come from around the world, said Highland resident Dave Hall.

"I've gotten death threats from people in Germany and Spain and New Zealand. … I mean, hundreds and hundreds of hateful messages," said Hall, who is now worried the fallout could affect his family.

In the video, Hall narrates and films while his friend Glenn Taylor pushes a large boulder from its delicate perch, sending it tumbling down a small embankment. A third man, identified as Taylor's son, watches.

 (Dave Hall) (Dave Hall)

The unique "goblin" formation, also known as a "hoodoo," is one of many that gives the park its name, and the two men had determined the loose rock could be dangerous.

"Seeing the circumstances and evaluating the safety of everybody, not just our Scout troop but everybody in the park, we had to decide: Is the safety of everyone here greater than the right for this rock to remain perched on an inch-and-a-half, razor-thin ledge of dirt and wobble?" Hall said.

Despite their assertions that they were concerned for the safety of others in the park after watching a family with small children pass below, the lighthearted attitude of the film paints a different picture for many as the men cheer and high-five.

Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg said Thursday he found the video disturbing and has asked that possible criminal charges be considered in the case.

Goblin Valley State Park is about an hour away from both the Green River and Capitol Reef National Park. (Allison Laypath) Goblin Valley State Park is about an hour away from both the Green River and Capitol Reef National Park. (Allison Laypath)

The Emery County Attorney's Office confirmed Friday that it has been contacted by state park representatives and will review the case once an investigation is complete. So far, no charges have been filed.

Hall and Taylor were leading a group of Scouts through Goblin Valley State Park at the time was video taken. A spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America called the act by two leaders disappointing and reprehensible.

"We teach our 2.6 million youth members and 1.1 million adult members … the principles of 'leave no trace.' These principles stress a commitment to maintaining the integrity and character of the outdoors and all living things," according to a statement from the BSA. "The isolated actions of these individuals are absolutely counter to our beliefs and what we teach."

Goblin Valley State Park boast rock formations that produce a maze-like playground. (Utah State Parks, Utah State Parks) Goblin Valley State Park boast rock formations that produce a maze-like playground. (Utah State Parks, Utah State Parks)

The BSA is reviewing the matter and "will take appropriate action," the statement concludes.

Hall said he understands where the BSA is coming from and is willing to accept whatever decision the organization makes in the case.

"I don't blame the Boy Scouts one bit. I fully agree that just with the information they have in that video, I would say the same thing if I was a BSA leader," Hall said, but reiterating there was a question of safety that doesn't show up in the minute-long video.

Both men emphasized their love of scouting. In a conversation with KSL reporter Jed Boal, Taylor said he regrets his actions and agrees "there's a better way to treat the outdoors."

 (Dave Hall) (Dave Hall)

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