A father whose gender reveal photo shoot sparked a devastating wildfire that killed a firefighter in 2020 will spend a year in prison.
Refugio Jimenez Jr and his wife Angelina were also ordered to pay $1.78 million (£1.41 million) for the south of the country. California a wildfire that burned an area twice the size of Oxford.
After a smoke machine ignited dry grass at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains on September 5, the couple tried to put out the first flames with bottled water.
But they were unable to stop the flames from spreading, which ultimately injured 13 people, forced the evacuation of hundreds and killed 39-year-old Charles Morton on September 17.
“Solving the case will never be a victory,” prosecutor Jason Anderson said, offering his condolences to Mr. Morton’s family.
“For the victims who have lost so much, including their homes along with their valuables and memories, we understand that these intangible possessions can never be replaced.”
Refugio pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of reckless burning of an inhabited structure. He will be imprisoned on February 23.
His sentence includes two years of felony probation – a supervised alternative to prison essentially acting as a suspended sentence – and will also include 200 hours of community service to be completed.
Angelina admitted to three misdemeanor counts of recklessly burning another person’s property and was sentenced to 400 hours of community service, with one year of summary probation, which is a lesser type of suspended sentence. restrictive.
The United States Forest Service is also suing the manufacturers, distributors and sellers of these pyrotechnic devices, as well as the couple, alleging that the “smoke bombs” used were illegal and known to be defective.
Mike Scafiddi, Refugio’s lawyer, said the couple wanted to speak publicly about the fire, its impact on the community and Mr. Morton’s death, but could not because of the ongoing case .
“They have prayed for Mr. Morton and his family every night since his death,” he said.
“It affected them deeply.”
He said his client researched and tested the pyrotechnic device before setting it off that day, finding no problems online or when testing it.
“It was unpredictable in everyone’s minds,” he said.
One dead, five injured in New York subway shooting
First case of human plague in eight years recorded in a US state
Mr Scafiddi said the couple did not, contrary to what has been publicly said for years, have a gender reveal party.
It was a photo session to find out the sex of the baby with the couple, some relatives and their children, he said.
“To infer that this was a gathering of several people with food and a celebration is simply incorrect,” he added.
“It was just about taking photos in a beautiful setting.”