A San Diego man whose prank phone call shut down a major highway and inconvenienced drivers for three hours on Thanksgiving says it was all a misguided joke.
"It was a joke meant for me and my sister. I didn't mean anyone to be affected in San Diego," Victor Diaz told NBC 7 Thursday.
Diaz called his younger sister twice as she was driving on Interstate 15, heading to her family’s Thanksgiving gathering in Escondido. Disguising his voice, Diaz said there was a bomb in her car and it was about to explode.
Diaz' sister pulled over to the center divide on northbound I-15, near Miramar Way and called 911.
After officials determined there was no bomb in the vehicle, Diaz was called to the scene for questioning and arrested for the bomb hoax.
Diaz returned home early around 3:30 a.m. Thursday after being held in jail for seven days pending possible charges.
He did not want to appear on camera but spoke to the media and expressed regret for the prank.
“It was just a joke between me and my sister and wasn’t supposed to involve anybody else and it just went wrong, and just took a turn for the worse,” Diaz said.
He didn't realize the prank had gotten so out of hand and was even stuck in the traffic himself before knowing it was his prank call that had caused the gridlock.
“I understand a lot of people missed their flights. A lot of people were late to Thanksgiving and I know what that felt like because I was in a jail cell for Thanksgiving,” he said. “It wasn’t pretty for anybody.”
"I apologize to San Diego, the police department, and everyone involved,” the 28-year-old said.
Diaz said he didn't expect his sister to get that scared.
"I would've done the same thing if I didn't know who it was," he said of her reaction.
When he first learned he would be arrested and booked on felony charges, Diaz said he felt lightheaded and couldn't believe it.
He was released from custody Wednesday after the San Diego County District Attorney's Office chose not to file charges.
The case will now be passed onto the San Diego City Attorney’s office for review. Prosecutors within that office have received the case but would not comment on possible misdemeanor charges.
When NBC 7 asked Diaz if he's worried about any new potential charges, he said he was just happy to be released from custody.
Family members said Diaz is very embarrassed about his role in the incident.
"I messed up a lot of people's day," he said adding credit to the San Diego police officers and the bomb squad for a fast response.
Diaz said he wasn't sure if he still has his job as a truck driver since he missed a Thanksgiving night shift with the arrest.
He has two kids and a daughter on the way and missed a baby shower held last Saturday. He said the first thing he did when he got out of jail was kissed his wife.
As for his practice of pranking his sister, Diaz said that's over.
"I think I picked the wrong joke," he said. "No, that’s it. No more."