Florida man arrested for popping dozens of balloons after marriage proposal

MIAMI — A man is facing charges of reckless disregard for the environment after video showed him popping balloons and letting them fall into the water at a south Florida marina.

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Police arrested David Torres-Bocanegra, who is charged with reckless disregard for the environment, WTVJ reported.

Investigators said Torres-Bocanegra confessed to popping about 50 balloons on a yacht docked in a Marina as part of a cleanup after a wedding proposal and engagement party, The Miami Herald reported.

Video shared on Instagram by MMG Outboard Division shows two people on the hull of a boat, popping balloons and letting the trash fall into the water. The post says, “Instead of properly disposing of their balloons in trash cans – they took it upon themselves to grab knives and pop them one by one and either let them fall or throw them overboard directly into the marina water. As we passed them and expressed our disagreement – we were ignored and they continued popping away with no care in the world.”

Miami-Dade police told WSVN that in addition to the arrest, they had handed out nine civil citations totaling $22,500.

“As a community, we share the responsibility to protect our environment,” George Perez, interim director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, said in a statement. “I am extremely proud of our Illegal Dumping Unit, for their thorough investigation and swift conclusion to this case. … Our coastal waterways are the natural beauty of our country, and our marine life depend on us to keep them safe.”

The boat had been chartered by a man named Tom Rivas for a wedding proposal and engagement party, WPLG reported. In a statement he posted to Instagram, Rivas said that he was not responsible for what happened, saying that the décor company set up the balloons and the boat’s crew removed them, adding “a very special day for us has turned into tons of hate messages of people assuming it was us doing this horrible act,” WPLG reported.

Cloud Nine, which helped Rivas plan the event, said in a statement on Instagram that their balloon vendor was responsible: “Our balloon vendor decorated the boat and left. We decorated the pier, finished the proposal, and cleaned up as we always do. We are never in charge of removing balloon decorations.”

Officials with Florida Fish and Wildlife warn that balloons can be mistaken for food by sea turtles, which can be injured or killed by eating them.