Florida teens seen on viral video dumping trash into ocean from a boat turn themselves in

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Florida teens seen on viral video dumping trash into ocean from a boat turn themselves in

Two Florida teens seen in a viral video dumping trash into the Atlantic Ocean from a boat turned themselves into authorities on Friday and face a felony pollution charge, according to officials and court records.

The suspects, a 15-year-old from Gulf Stream and a 16-year-old from Boynton Beach, are charged with one count each of causing pollution, so as to harm or injure human health or welfare, animal, plant, or aquatic life or property, according to arrest reports filed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC.

The charge is a third-degree felony and carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $50,000 fine if convicted, according to the arrest report.

NBC News does not generally name minors charged with crimes.

A video still of boaters dumping trash off a boat into the ocean
Boaters dump trash into the ocean off the Florida coast.Wavy Boats / YouTube

FWC chairman Rodney Barreto said Friday in a statement that “callous disregard for Florida’s environment will not be tolerated.”

“This is a teaching moment for all those involved—Florida’s natural resources are precious, and we should all do our part to protect them,” he said.

The incident occurred Sunday in the Boca Inlet as the boaters were seen on video headed away from the annual Boca Bash, the FWC said.

The video, which content creator Wavy Boats posted on YouTube, shows two people each dumping a trash bin full of garbage into the ocean.

The driver of the boat, the 15 year old, tossed garbage into the ocean that included plastic water bottles, cans, food bags, plastic cups and other “unidentifiable items,” the arrest report said.

“After he emptied the contents of his basket directly into the water. He is seen holding the basket over his head pumping the basket up and down as if he was celebrating the dumping of the trash into the water,” the arrest report said.

“Throughout the video there is drone footage showing the trash (pollutants) scattered across the surface of the ocean, with the pollutants being dispersed by the rough waves and wind,” according to the arrest report.

The video also shows the 16 year old dump contents of a trash bin into the ocean.

According to the arrest report, an investigator with the FWC went Tuesday to a home of the owner of the registered boat. A man who identified himself as the 15-year-old’s father told the investigator they were in the process of retaining legal counsel, the report stated.

“This is not a representation as of who we are,” the father told the investigator, according to the arrest report.

On Wednesday, the investigator spoke by phone to the father of the other suspect, who said they were also seeking legal counsel.

It was not immediately clear Friday night who the teens may have retained to represent them. A representative of the state attorney’s office over Palm Beach County could not be reached for comment.

The FWC also spoke to multiple witnesses on the boat who also identified the suspects, according to the arrest report.

In a statement, the parents of one of the teens involved apologized to everyone impacted and “rightfully upset by what occurred,” and said they are cooperating with authorities.

“We take the responsibility of caring for our oceans and our community very seriously, and we are extremely saddened by what occurred last weekend at Boca Bash,” the statement said.

It said the family agrees “that this is a teaching moment for the young kids involved and they should certainly participate in community service and ocean conservation efforts to deepen their understanding of the importance of our community and environment.”

Boca Bash organizers posted on its Facebook page Tuesday that the actions seen on the video were not representative of the event.

“We do not condone this behavior by any means and are appalled that the passengers even had the audacity to clap at the drone that was filming them dumping their garbage,” the statement said. “We hope the repercussions handed down can be viewed publicly as a warning of how important our waters are to us native Floridians.”

Antonio Planas

Antonio Planas is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital. 

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