Utah men set booby traps along popular hiking trail, police say

One of the booby traps found along a Utah hiking trail
AP Photo/Utah County Sheriff Department
One of the booby traps police say they found along a hiking trail in Utah's Provo Canyon
AP Photo/Utah County Sheriff Department

(CBS/AP) PROVO, Utah -- Two men have been arrested on suspicion of setting booby traps made of sharpened sticks and a large rock on a popular hiking trail in Utah's Provo Canyon.

Benjamin Rutkowski, 19, of Orem, and Kai Christensen, 21, of Provo, were booked into the county jail Saturday for investigation of misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

The trip wires for the booby traps were found at the entrance to a crude shelter made of dead trees in an area frequented by hikers and campers, said Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon.

One trap was reportedly designed to send a device made with a large rock and sharpened sticks swinging toward the head of an unsuspecting person.

The other trap was designed to cause a person to fall down on sharpened sticks that were placed in the ground.

"There was potential for some very serious injury to someone," he told the Deseret News. "If someone fell the wrong way it could have been disastrous or even fatal."

The suspects told authorities they set the traps on April 15 - the day before they were discovered - but that they were targeting wildlife, not people. The suspects said they had planned to return and take the whole shelter down, booby traps included, but forgot.

Cannon was skeptical the target was wildlife.

"We believe they knew people would be going there and that's why they put them there," Cannon said.

He said illegal marijuana farmers are known to use booby traps in remote areas, but he's never heard of this type of device in a recreational area.

"People don't go up expecting this and they shouldn't have to," he told the Deseret News.

Investigators used Facebook to find individuals familiar with the shelter and to locate the suspects.