A marriage proposal and subsequent celebration aboard a yacht in Miami has been overshadowed by the arrest of two people and more than $25,000 in fines for others involved. Their alleged crime: dumping balloons. A bystander recorded video showing dozens of balloons decorating a yacht docked at Bayshore Landing Marina in Coconut Grove on Tuesday, per the Miami Herald. At least two people could be seen popping the balloons, which subsequently fell into Biscayne Bay. There appeared to be no attempt to clean up the debris, which could severely injure or kill marine life if eaten, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
On Thursday, police arrested David Torres-Bocanegra, 29, of Homestead, who admitted to popping some 50 balloons, according to an arrest report. A day later, cops arrested Martina Gaspoz, 26, of Miami, who said "she felt ashamed of what they had done," according to police. It's unclear what charges Gaspoz is facing. Torres-Bocanegra, who posted a $500 bond, faces a felony charge of reckless disregard for the environment, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or 60 days in jail, per WPLG. Ten people and companies have also been fined more than $25,000 combined. "Our marine life depend on us to keep them safe," Miami-Dade police interim Director George A. Perez said Thursday.
Event-planning business PRC Cloud Nine, president Iuliia Tyshchenko, and vice president Viacheslav Diadiura, were each fined $2,500 for illegal dumping, per the Herald. The company said it was not responsible for disposing of the balloons. Still, "we are sorry for the situation we were involved in, and we are aware now of the damage it generated to our environment." The company that chartered the yacht, HD2 Yacht Service 3 Maintenance, and its operator were also fined along with an event coordinator and the yacht's owner. Tom Rivas, the newly engaged man who arranged the trip, appears to have escaped blame. He says he had no idea about the incident until later, WPLG reports. (Read more Miami stories.)