Several people were injured in crashes Saturday on Bolivar Peninsula and dozens more were arrested as law enforcement and emergency responders were kept busy with problems caused by the annual Jeep Weekend.
The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office was still gathering data about Saturday evening’s events on Sunday morning, Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset said.
Through Saturday afternoon, the sheriff’s office had arrested 68 people, Trochesset said. Of those, 30 were alcohol-related arrests, Trochesset said. Ten of the arrests were for driving while intoxicated, he said.
Deputies had also responded to 10 accidents were a vehicle struck and injured a person, and another eight crashes in which people inside vehicles were injured, Trochesset said.
At least two accidents left people critically injured, Trochesset said.
In one, a man fell from the bed of a truck on state Highway 87 and was badly injured, Trochesset said.
In the other on state Highway 87, two vehicles collided head-on near Gilchrist, Trochesset said. A woman was critically injured in that crash, Trochesset said.
She was pulled from a burning vehicle and received CPR at the scene before being flown to a University of Texas Medical Branch hospital in Galveston, Trochesset said.
As many as 40,000 people were on Bolivar Peninsula this weekend for the annual Jeep Weekend, a loosely organized annual event held mostly near Crystal Beach.
The number of people and vehicles on the beach and on state Highway 87 made it difficult for police and emergency responders to move around the peninsula, Trochesset said.
The event has grown in size in recent years, and is now one of the largest single gatherings on the peninsula.
The sheriff’s office detailed additional deputies to the area before the weekend started. Trochesset said he called the Texas Department of Public Safety on Saturday to ask for additional help dealing with the crowds.
Galveston County Emergency Services District No. 2, which provides ambulance service on the peninsula, requested and received aid from six other EMS departments, according to the district.
Some peninsula residents have complained about the size and behavior of the crowd this year, and at least one local business decided to close in the face of the large crowds.
Brad Vratis, the owner of the Stingaree restaurant in Crystal Beach, said he kept the popular restaurant closed Sunday in attempt to keep his employees safe.
“I didn’t want to have to send my employees home fighting against the crazy, intoxicated folks over there,” Vratis said.
Vratis said his business, which is on the north side of state Highway 87, doesn’t typically benefit from the large crowds during Jeep Weekend. Because of that, he said it wasn’t worth the risk of having his employees on the road.