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Prosecutors drop charges against four Marines arrested after breaking ride at the San Diego Zoo, leaving more than 100 people stranded

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Four Marines were arrested for vandalism at the San Diego Zoo. Source: Twitter

Update: All charges have been dropped against the four Marines who were accused of breaking a gondola ride at the San Diego Zoo after rocking it. 

The incident stranded more than 100 passengers on the ride for over two hours but prosecutors belive justice has been served. 

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the case “in the interest of justice,” Tanya Sierra, a spokeswoman for the office, told Marine Corps Times.

“After a negotiated agreement, we agreed to dismiss the case after 6 months of no new violations of the law and full payment of restitution,” a statement by Sierra said.

The Marines originally faced up to three years in prison on felony vandalism charges but have paid more $18,260 in restitution to the San Diego Zoo as part of their punishment.

Earlier:

Don Sweeney, The Sacramento Bee

February 1, 2022 – More than 100 people on the Skyfari Aerial Tram at the San Diego Zoo spent up to two hours dangling in midair when the ride stopped, firefighters reported.

All guests were safely back on the ground after operators were able to restart the ride at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29, San Diego firefighters reported on Twitter.

San Diego police arrested four men on suspicion of vandalism after they were seen rocking their gondola, causing an automatic shutdown, KSWB reported. 

The men were identified by police and military officials as Sergeant Jacob Dean Bauer, 23, Lance corporal Brayden Stone Posey, 20, Corporal Brandon Gregory Cook, 21, and Lance corporal Marquette Alexander Williams, 21. They were arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism, Sgt. Savage told NBC San Diego

Major Mason Englehart, Director of Communications for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, confirmed to NBC 7 the men are Marines assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 225 (VMFA 225) based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma but were in San Diego training at MCAS Miramar, where the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is based.

“We were just hoping that we were going to get down soon,” rider Hussein Alhamadami told the station.

 

 

The ride, which has 28 gondolas holding up to four people each, gives riders “an airborne shortcut over the treetops to the other end of the Zoo, and … spectacular views of the Zoo and surrounding Balboa Park,” according to the zoo’s website.

The Marines were allegedly rocking the Skyfari Aerial Tram gondola back and forth, according to witness statements to an SDPD officer.

Visitors trapped on the ride were given complimentary tickets for a future visit to the zoo, KFMB reported.

 

“We were walking around seeing the animals and then we look up and everyone’s stuck,” visitor Jordan Gakstatter told KNSD.

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