Prosecutors have dismissed charges against four Marines who were accused of rocking a gondola at the San Diego Zoo, causing the ride to fail and stranding more than 100 passengers in the air for two-plus hours.
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,” Sierra wrote in a statement to Marine Corps Times.
She noted that the defendants have paid $18,260 in restitution to the San Diego Zoo.
The Marines had faced up to three years in prison on felony vandalism charges.
Sgt. Jacob Dean Bauer, Cpl. Brandon Gregory Cook, Lance Cpl. Brayden Stone Posey and Lance Cpl. Marquette Alexander Williams were arrested on Jan. 29 for allegedly stalling the San Diego Zoo’s Skyfari Aerial Tram.
It took San Diego firefighters a little more than two hours to evacuate the passengers who were stuck on the ride.
At the time of the incident, the 3rd Marine Air Wing Marines were training at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Duane B. Kampa told Marine Corps Times in February. They were assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 225, which is based out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.
“Following a thorough command investigation, leadership of the four Marines addressed the matter appropriately,” 3rd Marine Air Wing spokesman Maj. Mason Englehart wrote in a statement to Marine Corps Times.
The dropping of the charges was first reported by NBC 7 San Diego.
Matthew Lopas, a lawyer representing the Marines, did not respond by publication time to a Marine Corps Times request for comment.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.