SAN DIEGO (KWSB) – Four men arrested Saturday on suspicion of vandalizing the Skyfari Aerial Tram at San Diego Zoo, triggering a shutdown, have been identified as U.S. Marines.
The military members under investigation are from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Major Mason Englehart, director of communication strategy and operations for the aviation unit, told Nexstar’s KWSB in an email. He identified them as two lance corporals, a corporal, and a sergeant.
San Diego police said the four men are all between 20 and 24 years old.
“We are committed to being good neighbors to the San Diego community and will continue to work with local authorities as they continue their investigation,” Englehart said. “Anyone found in violation of law or directive will be held appropriately accountable. This behavior is contrary to our core values and 3rd MAW is conducting an investigation into the incident.”
The men are accused of “rocking back and forth” in their gondola, which caused the ride to automatically shut down shortly after 2 p.m., a San Diego Zoo spokeswoman told KSWB.
According to a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department tweet, crews were called in to rescue more than 100 passengers from the tram. The ride features 28 total gondolas that hold up to four people each and typically takes about eight minutes to make a round trip at the zoo.
One of the passengers stuck on the ride was annual zoo ticket holder Hussein Alhamadami and his girlfriend.
“We were just hoping that we were going to get down soon,” Alhamadami said. “It would swing back and forth for a few seconds and then it would stop.”
He said that at the time, it wasn’t clear to passengers why the Skyfari gondola had stopped.
“They were staying stuff on the speaker,” he said. “I couldn’t really hear so I had to call customer service and they said it would take about 20 minutes but unfortunately, it took about two hours.”
All guests were brought to safety on the ground around 4:30 p.m., fire crews said. No injuries were reported.