Man seen toppling Utah boulder claims disability in recent lawsuit

Alleged Goblin Valley vandal image from YouTube video from Salt Lake Tribune

Alleged Goblin Valley vandal image from YouTube video from Salt Lake Tribune

(This video is from the Salt Lake Tribune collected from a removed Facebook post)

LOS ANGELES (CNN) — One of the men who toppled an ancient boulder in Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park last week filed a personal injury lawsuit just a few weeks earlier, claiming he suffers from “serious, permanent and debilitating injuries.”

Video of Glenn Taylor shoving the huge rock off a slender pedestal where it rested for millions of years went viral online and prompted media scrutiny. 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.

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.

‘You didn’t see how hard I pushed’

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.

‘Glenn saved his life’

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.

Taylor and two other men were leading a Boy Scout group on a visit to the park when the incident happened.

The men, all from Utah, defended their actions in interviews last week, saying the delicate structure posed a threat to visitors.

“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.”

‘Didn’t look like a stiff wind to me’

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.

Connection to Arias trial

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.”

Meanwhile, the man who shot the video, Hall, is tied to another nationally publicized case: the Jodi Arias murder trial.

Throughout the Arias trial, Hall appeared numerous times on HLN to talk about the life and legacy of his friend Travis Alexander and to paint an unflattering picture of his killer, Arias.

CNN’s Kyung Lah reported from Los Angeles; Tom Watkins from Atlanta. HLN’s Amanda Sloane also contributed to this report.

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