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YouTube video showing boy riding in truck filled with gel beads leads to arrests in Corona

A couple was arrested Thursday after authorities discovered YouTube videos of an 8-year-old boy sloshing around the bed of a truck filled with water and gel beads as it traveled through Corona, police said.

Holly Piazza, 45, and her fiance, Brian Chase, 37, were cited on suspicion of child endangerment, which is a misdemeanor, according to Det. John Samano of the Corona Police Department. The boy is Piazza’s son.

“Poor parenting skills,” Samano said. “It’s a poor choice and a poor judgement on behalf of the parents.”

An investigation was launched Monday when police received information about two YouTube videos posted under the user name “Rocco Piazza Vlogs.” The popular YouTube user has nearly 1.5 million subscribers.

Police said the videos “depicted dangerous driving behavior involving children” on the streets of Corona.

One of the videos showed a boy describing what he planned to do as he walked inside the bed of the truck.

“We are putting the vinyl down and taping it down and then we’re going to put 1 million Orbeez and then we’re going to put some water,” he said.

The video then shows a man, woman and the boy prepping the truck bed and filling it with Orbeez, which are nontoxic, absorbent polymer beads. Police said the beads absorb water and swell up to 300 times their original size.

After filling the bed of the white Dodge pickup, the boy and woman jumped into the beads. The truck then started to move.

The truck appeared to be driving through a residential neighborhood before it hit a main street and drove past dozens of cars stopped at busy intersections. The video includes drone footage showing what the truck beds looked like from the sky.

At times, the truck swerved and led to several tense moments for the boy and woman.

“After the family was done with the Orbeez material, they dumped all of it on Rimpau Avenue near Erick Street, creating a dangerous roadway condition for motorists,” police said in a statement.

Another video titled “Illegally dumping a million Orbeez” showed the truck as it drove through a busy street with its tailgate down and its bed filled with the beads. As the truck accelerated, the Orbeez bounced onto the street and left a mess on the road.

In the same video, a woman, whom police identified as Piazza, explained how dumping the beads would be illegal and could be considered littering.

She went on to say, “We have come up with an idea to get rid of a million Orbeez and it’s really illegal and it’s really bad.”

Piazza then urged viewers to subscribe to the YouTube channel if they wanted to see what happens next.

“Don’t report us,” she said.

Police said the beads spilled into sewer drains.

“The city Department of Water and Power was notified, and they responded for an extensive cleanup of the area on Rimpau Avenue,” police said.

After officers reviewed the videos, police said, they were able to identify Piazza and Chase.

Piazza also received a traffic citation for illegally dumping materials upon the roadway, police said. Piazza and Chase will also be charged for the cost of the cleanup.

The Riverside County Department of Child Protective Service is investigating the case, Samano said.

“We hope parents learn from this and don’t ever put their kids in danger,” he said.

Piazza did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA

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