Categories: chargedcouple

Couple charged with involuntary manslaughter in Southern California fire sparked by gender reveal

PALM SPRING, Calif. — The couple who used a smoke bomb at a gender reveal ceremony and sparked Southern California’s El Dorado wildfire that killed a firefighter last year has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and 29 other crimes, authorities announced Tuesday.

Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez pleaded not guilty Tuesday, San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson announced at a news conference.

A judge released them on their own recognizance despite prosecutors’ request that they each be held on $50,000 bail, Anderson said.

The charges included one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to property.

Anderson said Tuesday that the couple could face sentences extending from the “lower teens to low twenties” of years if found guilty on all charges.

Charlie Morton, a 14-year veteran “hotshot” firefighter with the San Bernardino National Forest, died while fighting the blaze. The fire also resulted in 13 injuries.

‘It cracked foundations’: A gender reveal party using 80 pounds of explosives made nearby residents think there was an earthquake

‘I don’t wish this on anybody’: Soon-to-be father killed planning gender reveal party as device explodes in New York

When asked how prosecutors would argue the couple’s actions were responsible for Morton’s death, Anderson said the firefighter was “fighting a fire that was started because of a smoke bomb.”

“That’s the only reason he was there,” he added.

The El Dorado Fire erupted on Sept. 5 when the couple and their young children staged a baby gender reveal at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains.

A Cal Fire official on Sept. 7 told The Desert Sun, part of the USA TODAY Network, that the family had “absolutely been cooperating” with officials.

Over a 23-day period, the fire burned 22,680 acres in the Oak Glen and Yucaipa Ridge areas, and within the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area of the San Bernardino National Forest.  

The fire forced evacuations and  destroyed five residences and 15 other structures, and damaged four residences.

After Morton’s death, U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen called him “a well-respected leader who was always there for his squad and his crew at the toughest times.”

A hotshot crew is a group of 20 or so firefighters that respond to large wildland fires across the country and are assigned to work the most challenging parts of the fire. 

Morton had been with the Forest Service for 14 years, joining the team in San Bernardino in 2007. He worked on both the Front Country and Mountaintop Ranger Districts, for the Mill Creek Interagency Hotshots, Engine 31, Engine 19, and the Bi

Read More

News Bot

Share
Published by
News Bot

Recent Posts

Dipping a ball in titanium tetrachloride to make the world’s smokiest ball

This guy bought some titanium tetrachloride which basically turns into white smoke when exposed to…

28 mins ago

FDA clears Synchron’s brain-computer interface device for human trials

A company that makes an implantable brain-computer interface (BCI) has been given the go-ahead by…

28 mins ago

Google will require coronavirus vaccines for returning office employees

Google will require its employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus before they’re allowed to…

28 mins ago

State attorneys general will appeal dismissal of Facebook antitrust suit

The antitrust lawsuit brought by 48 attorneys general against Facebook isn't dead yet. A federal…

28 mins ago

Activision Blizzard CEO says response to harassment lawsuit was ‘tone deaf’

Following nearly a week of internal unrest, Activision Blizzard has published a letter from CEO…

29 mins ago

James Bond’s iconic Aston Martin is coming to ‘Rocket League’

Yet another iconic car is coming to Rocket League, and it's one that'll be nigh-on…

29 mins ago