According to police, a Florida man was arrested after a viral video showed him dumping 50 balloons from a boat into the ocean following a proposal on board. According to reports, the man admitted to officers that he committed the environmentally hazardous act.
David Torres-Bocanegra, 29, was arrested on Wednesday by Miami-Dade Police for allegedly deflating and disposing of the balloons while working on a chartered yacht at Miami’s Bayshore Landing Marina. Since 1989, it has been illegal in Florida to release balloons.
MMG Outboard Division, a boat dealership, posted a video of the incident on Instagram, which quickly went viral. The video shows two people on the boat popping the white and gold balloons before letting them fall into the water. Balloons in waters pose a large threat to sea life including turtles and seabirds, who mistakenly believe them to be food and eat them.
“As we passed them and expressed our displeasure, they ignored us and continued popping away with no care in the world,” MMG Outboard Division wrote in the post.
According to NBC 6 Miami, yacht broker Esteban Bruna shot the video and verbally warned the individuals to stop. “I was pretty upset about it because this is our bay and our livelihood,” he told NBC 6. “I was here when they were setting them up, and at first I didn’t think much of it, but as the day progressed and they started popping away and letting them all go into the water, I was shocked.”
“‘Are you guys serious, is this something you’re going to do right now?’ I asked. [They] simply ignored me and blew me off “Bruna stated. “It was harrowing to see what they were doing to marine life and waterways by simply dumping all of these balloons into the water.”
Miami Police said on social media on Wednesday that they were aware of the video and were looking into it, adding, “We take crimes against the environment seriously and will work to bring the individuals responsible for their actions to justice.”
Officers arrested Torres-Bocanegra in Homestead on Wednesday evening, and according to the arrest affidavit obtained by Newsweek, he told officers that he did deflate the balloons on the vessel and provided a written statement.
He is charged with reckless disregard for the environment, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or 60 days in jail, or both.
Individuals were also issued ten civil citations with a $2,510 fine each for illegal dumping.
The groom-to-be, who chartered the boat for his proposal, stated on Instagram, as seen by Local 10, that he was unaware of the balloon disposal and was inside the boat with his party of guests at the time.
“As a community, we share the responsibility to protect our environment,” MDPD Interim Director George A. Perez said in a statement. I am extremely proud of our Illegal Dumping Unit, for their thorough investigation and swift conclusion to this case. I would like to thank all the agencies and the State Attorney’s Office for their collaboration in bringing these individuals to justice. Our coastal waterways are the natural beauty of our county, and our marine life depend on us to keep them safe.”