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"Now you're John Hammond."
Ian Malcolm to Peter Ludlow(src)

The San Diego Incident was a disastrous incident that occurred on the streets of San Diego, California in 1997. It occurred after InGen CEO Peter Ludlow brought a male Tyrannosaurus rex to the mainland, only for it to escape containment and go on a rampage throughout San Diego in search of its infant child.


Isla Sorna

Prior to the incident, Peter Ludlow hired a group of hunters to assist in the capture of dinosaurs on Isla Sorna to be taken to the Jurassic Park in San Diego. The hunters were led by Roland Tembo, his best friend Ajay Sidhu, and second in command Dieter Stark. However, due to the sabotage of Nick Van Owen and Sarah Harding, Ludlow only managed to contain a male T. rex and his infant and decided to bring them to the mainland.[1]

S.S. Venture

The captured Tyrannosaurus was placed on a cargo ship named the S.S. Venture. Ludlow arrived with the T. rex's infant at San Diego (possibly in helicopter N96WC) and later held a press conference as the boat arrived. Ludlow's glee at his impending triumph turned first to confusion as the harbormaster informed him that the ship had arrived early but was headed on a direct collision course with the dock with all attempts to hail the crew failing, then to fear as the huge cargo ship emerged from the fog and smashed right into the dock, demolishing the harbormaster's shack as well as the containment truck intended for the dinosaur and causing numerous injuries.[1]

Ludlow and an off-duty police officer named Berner boarded the ship, with the latter halting in horror as he entered the bridge area. Ludlow asked him where the crew was to which Berner replied, "all over the place". Ludlow checked for himself to see pieces of the crew ripped to shreds, the captain's severed hand still clinging onto the wheel.[1]

The Incident

T. rex Escape

Meanwhile, Ian Malcolm and Sarah Harding had been trying to get on board because they knew where the Tyrannosaurus rex was, but were stopped by another off-duty officer named Jerry.

Jerry then foolishly opened the cargo hold and the T. rex, which had been contained below, burst out of it and rampaged briefly through the dock area before heading into San Diego. Due to the industrial-strength Carfentanil tranquilizers used on it by Roland Tembo, it had fallen into a coma en-route to San Diego so the crew gave it naltrexone to counter act it but didn't know the proper dosage, so as a result the creature was suffering an intense drug-induced state. Harding speculated that the creature would first seek out food and water before going after its infant, which had been flown in separately on Ludlow's plane.[1]

The buck spots a swimming pool in Benjamin's backyard.

Wandering into the suburbs, the T. rex noticed a swimming pool in someone's garden and began to drink, waking up the resident's young son Benjamin. After ascertaining that he really was seeing a dinosaur, he roused his parents who were at first skeptical until they saw the T. rex for themselves, which had just made an evening meal out of their dog. When Benjamin took a picture of the creature, the flash made it roar in anger and fright, scaring the adults and causing them to scream as well. Meanwhile, Malcolm and Harding located the Jurassic Park facility holding the infant T. rex and took it in their car, in order to lure the adult back to the ship.[1]

While this was happening, the adult was rampaging through the downtown area, causing chaos and total panic amongst the citizens. Stomping down a busy street, the T. rex caused several drivers to smash into each other whilst reversing away from him as screaming people ran for their lives. The dinosaur growled at the chaos he had caused before sinking his teeth into some traffic lights, testing to see if they were edible.[1]

Chaos and panic in downtown San Diego!

A city bus attempting to escape the angry carnivore ended up crashing into a Blockbuster Video store after the T. rex smashed his head into the side, ejecting the passengers out of the windows. The T. rex then turned down another street near the business district, chasing a horde of screaming people, several of whom even clambered over parked cars in their hurry to get away. As the buck snapped at the heels of some terrified Japanese businessmen, one unlucky man foolishly broke off from the main group and ran for the door of a nearby shop, only to be snatched up by the Tyrannosaurus just as he got the door open. Crushing the unfortunate man in his jaws, the Rex then dropped him behind a car and ate him.[1]

As Dr. Malcolm and Dr. Harding's car stopped on a busy road they witnessed the Tyrannosaurus rampaging down the road, scattering traffic. As they attempted to rouse the infant, the T. rex smelled the two with his child and roared his anger. He promptly chased the car, flipping a minivan in the process. As they neared the docks, several police cars and an animal control vehicle appeared on the scene, screeching to a halt when they caught sight of the adult, which proceeded to roar loudly and angrily at them. Recognising that this was way out of their league, the police and animal control unit promptly about turned and fled the scene. Crashing through a wall, Malcolm took the infant and ran for the ship followed by Harding and the adult T. rex. Ludlow was sitting in his car, telling his mercenaries to shoot the adult just as the two ran past with the baby. He ran after them in an attempt to recover the precious animal, reaching them just as they jumped overboard, having placed the infant in the cargo hold.[1]

The buck and his son are sealed in the cargo hold.

Ludlow foolishly ventured below deck just as the adult entered. Realizing he was in trouble, Ludlow ran up the stairs but tripped. The adult then grabbed his leg, breaking it and deposited him in front of the infant, who proceeded to kill Ludlow as his father looked on. On deck, Malcolm approached the cargo door controls and pressed the button to close them, while Harding shot the adult with a tranquilizer dart, before a police sniper on helicopter N244BB could kill it. The ship returned to Isla Sorna with full military escort and released both Tyrannosaurus back into their natural habitat. Both the U.S. and Costa Rican governments then labelled the island as a restricted, and a no-fly area in order to keep both people and the animals safe.[1] Despite this, an illegal parasailing operation named Dino-Soar ran trips to Isla Sorna, which later led to disaster.[2]


Buck, Doe and Junior reunited and happy on Isla Sorna.

Following the rampage of the Tyrannosaurus, the world was now aware of the existence of InGen’s dinosaurs, something which the company had previously attempted to cover up. As a result of the incident, the male Tyrannosaurus was safely returned to Isla Sorna along with his infant. John Hammond expressed his interest in working with the Costa Rican Department of Biological Preserves and US State Department to turn the island into a preserve. The United Nations saw fit that no humans were allowed to legally travel to the island.[1] Dr. Alan Grant reveals in Jurassic Park III that he was aware of the incident, but did not witness it.[2] Amazingly, despite numerous accidents, tramplings and fender-benders, there were very few civilian casualties. Dr. Ian Malcolm, who had had his scientific and personal credibility and reputation ruined as part of a smear campaign overseen by Ludlow for attempting to tell the story of Jurassic Park, was vindicated in the eyes of the world as they saw for themselves that dinosaurs had indeed been brought back to life by InGen.[1]

Unfortunately, in the long run, the incident had a negative effect on paleontology. By 2001, the public had little interest in the scientific discipline and turned their interest towards the awaiting decision from the United Nations on the fate of the island and its animals.[2]

In spite of its disastrous nature, the San Diego Incident can be thought of as the single inciting event for the freshly aware public's interest and willingness to see InGen's Dinosaurs first hand. In 2002, with all of the intrigue and controversy surrounding Isla Sorna and its inhabitants, the Masrani Global Corporation, now in control of InGen since 1998, would look to capitalize on this originally unintended consequence with the ground breaking of a new dream theme park project, Jurassic World, on the original island of Isla Nublar.[3]

People Involved


Hammond's Team
InGen Employees/Security Guards
Citizens of San Diego



  • The incident was used as a bonus level in the video game Chaos Island: The Lost World, where players play as the T. rex. The players' mission is to make his/her way to the freighter where the infant is located, while battling hunters throughout the city. The mission can only be accessed in normal or hard difficulty.
  • In Trespasser's Strategy Guide, it states the InGen Hunter's prize was "An adult Tyrannosaurus rex and her young", yet the T. rex captured was a male, not female.
  • The incident was most likely a tribute to the last sequence of the 1925 film The Lost World. There the travelers have taken an Apatosaurus to London for display, but it breaks free and runs freely trough the crowded streets. It also bears resemblance with King Kong. Since both animals were captured by man from an island and brought to civilization and runs amok in a city (the ship that transports the T. rex is even called The Venture, which is the name of the ship in King Kong (the ship's real name in King Kong movie is "Venture Surabaya"). Additionally, the purpose to both creatures' rampages is to reunite with a loved one; in the case of the Tyrannosaurus, it was his infant.
  • The incident also had a reference to the Godzilla franchise, showing a group of Japanese people running from the T. rex. Translated, they're shouting "We left Tokyo to get away from this!"
  • The incident also references the films Gorgo and Gappa: the Triphibian Monster, in which a large creature wrecks havoc in a city while looking for their stolen offspring.
  • In the game LEGO Jurassic World, the final level of the Lost World segment is a recreation of the San Diego incident from the film. In one of few times in the game, the mainland is playable. It is further referenced in free play where if you walk past T. rex Kingdom you can here an NPC saying "I wonder if the T. rex is the same one I saw in San Diego."