In news that’s disturbing at best, two men have been arrested for suspicion of misdemeanor reckless endangerment for setting up military-style booby traps along a popular hiking trail in Provo Canyon, Utah.
The traps, which included a 20-pound spiked boulder that was rigged by a tripwire to swing at a person’s head level, and another designed with fishing line to trip an unsuspecting hiker or animal to fall into a bed of wooden stakes (photos), were built near a makeshift shelter.
The two men, Benjamin Steven Rutkowski, 19, of Orem and Kai Matthew Christensen, 21, of Provo, claim the traps were intended for wildlife, but authorities don’t buy it.
“This is a shelter put together by people, visited by people ― anything that would be impacted by their device would have to be humans,” said Utah County sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon. “It took some time to build these traps. They took rope, heavy-duty fishing line, and they intended what the traps were going to do.”
The traps were discovered by James Schoeffler, a law enforcement officer for the U.S. Forest Service with military experience who was patrolling the area. While the the hanging boulder and white rope may have been easy to spot, the tripwire and ditch would have been easy to miss, especially for anyone hiking at night.
“It was just so out of place and so odd,” said Schoeffler. “I’ve seen devices and booby traps all over the world, but I never thought I’d see one in Provo, Utah.”
Authorities believe a misdemeanor to be the harshest charge possible in this situation, since no one was actually injured.
Photo credit: Thinkstock