Known as the “Duckbill,” the sandstone pedestal stood at about seven feet (2.1 meters) tall and roughly seven to ten feet (2.1 to 3 meters) wide on top. Overlooking the sea, it was a popular site for visitors at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area.
On Thursday, state park officials reported that the pedestal had collapsed – but they never considered that a group of people were responsible for the destruction. Instead, they assumed Mother Nature was responsible for bringing the sandstone sculpture down, just as she had made it.
“There’s no doubt that natural erosion would’ve eventually brought this thing to the ground,” parks spokesman Chris Havel said, as quoted by The Oregonian.
Havel was soon proven wrong, when drone footage captured by beachgoer David Kalas emerged, showing three people toppling the natural treasure. A fourth person sat on nearby rocks and watched the incident take place.
After toppling the formation to the ground, one person in the group happily shouted, “Got him!”
“I kind of laughed to myself, because I thought there was no way that they could knock it down – but then I noticed that it started wobbling and then I started to record it as two of the guys managed to knock it down,” Kalas told KATU News.
“I asked them, you know, why they knocked the rock down, and the reply I got was: their buddy broke their leg earlier because of that rock,” Kalas said. “They basically told me themselves that it was a safety hazard, and that they did the world or Oregon a favor.”
Kalas went on to state that once they had brought it to the ground, the group stood on it, snapped a few pictures and left.
“They were just standing on top of the rubble of the rock, laughing, smiling, giggling,” he said. “I just want them to learn a lesson, you know, because if they do this here they will probably do it elsewhere.”
Havel said several people have contacted the parks bureau with screenshots of social media accounts and potential leads regarding those responsible. If found, they could face citations of at least $435, according to Havel, and also criminal charges.
“Rules prohibit visitors from destroying natural features intentionally,” Havel said.
Police and park officials were expected to meet to discuss the situation later Tuesday.
Meanwhile, social media users have paid their respects to the sandstone pedestal, under the hashtag #ripthatpnwrock.
Most of the pictures posted online showed people on top of the rock, despite the fact that the pedestal is in a dangerous area of the park which has been the site of multiple drownings. The area has a fence around it.
One person did, however, apologize to the formation for “climbing on you that one time like an irresponsible jerk.”
Responding to the reason the vandals said they destroyed the formation, one Instagram user said: “I broke my ankle not far from that spot and you don’t see me destroying nature.”
Some placed blame on those who saw the destruction happen and chose to do nothing.
Another person called the formation the “star of the Pacific Northwest.”
One Instagram user used the destruction as a teaching moment, saying: “Mourn the loss of something beautiful, and fight to protect, and respect what remains.”
The strong social media reaction is unsurprising, with Havel himself saying that Oregonians, and other visitors, have a “great deal of pride” in the state’s natural wonders.