CRYSTAL BEACH

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.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

(19) comments

Jack Reeves

What a shame...the original Jeep folks were so compliant and polite. In fact, some of them used to clean the beach of trash, help folks who were stuck, helped visitors set up their awnings, etc. What in the world has happened? It's going to end like Kappa weekend in Galveston where none of the businesses were open because of the bad behavior of the visitors. This is outrageous behavior for Texans.

Bailey Jones

There were at least 2 events happening on Bolivar this weekend. In addition to the Jeep event was the MAGA Beach Bash, claiming several thousand attendees.

Cindy Acosta

Over 100 arrests, helicopter activated 10 times for serious injuries, one fatality, the beach was left in a horrible mess, so many alcohol related fights, and general disrespect overall for others and themselves with the activities going on, I witnessed as a resident. By Saturday 5:00 o'clock it was practically a mob behavior by many and I am sure it got worse after the sun went down. If you don't believe me look at some of the video's posted. I said last week someone will get killed this weekend and a lot of people will have their lives changed forever due to their or someone else's poor decisions. Sadly, this was true and it will be worse next year. We are very close to having a mass casualty situation where someone drinking or otherwise runs into a crowd of people or something else. My recommendation not just for the public safety but also for our wonderful first responders is shut it down. If unable to shut it down then for that week do not allow any vehicles on the beach unless they are licensed or a true golf cart. No razors, 4 wheelers, dirt bikes, or 4x4's unless they are properly licensed (many were so big they had no tags). This would get rid of at least 30% of the traffic. Then have law enforcement write tickets and arrest DUI's. Have them stationed at multiple entry sites to the beach. If they blow positive arrest them immediately. Put them on a bus located at the fire dept. when full drive to jail. Have two buses alternating. The elected officials need to be aware of truly how dangerous this week has become and taking no action is a bad decision that will most certainly lead to more injuries and deaths. This is not to say that they did not try, because with our terrific FD, PD, EMS etc. and the mutual aid called in to help they did the best they could, but by then things were well out of hand.

Don Schlessinger

So you're saying this event was advertised as a MAGA event? How can you back that up?

Carlos Ponce

This from the sponsors (Texas Patriots) of the MAGA Beach Bash 2019 on May 17, 2019 at Crystal Beach:
"Thanks to all Patriots that showed up, The event was a absolute Blast and Pleasure!
Special Thanks to Last Minute DJ'z for a Amazing setup and performance!
Please remember that some unfortunate accidents took place at the other end of the beach not related to our event but Please keep those people and their families in your prayers
We will be scheduling another beach bash by popular request shortly, See y'all there!"
https://www.facebook.com/texaspatriotnet/
https://www.facebook.com/events/225936101557676/
"accidents took place at the other end of the beach not related to our event"

Don Schlessinger

Seems there was actually 2 events on Bolivar this weekend, Go Topless Jeep Weekend, and (Texas Patriots) of the MAGA Beach Bash. What I saw on YouTube was a bunch of millennials getting drunk and partying. Aren't most millennials Socialists? Could this have been just another Socialist uprising?[beam]

Bailey Jones

Now Don, you know socialists don't own cars, much less Jeeps. Much less Jeeps with flags on them.

Bailey Jones

Carlos, don't forget - "It’s got to be killing the liberal trolls that MAGA over powered by far topless beach bash 2019 TEXAS ! LOL #Trump2020" https://www.facebook.com/951190491752816/videos/432428090907003/

Although, I must say, I'd pay money to see real trolls driving Jeeps.

Carlos Ponce

"Although, I must say, I'd pay money to see real trolls driving Jeeps.'
Sounds like a selfie moment.

Bailey Jones

"Sounds like a selfie moment." That's actually pretty good, Carlos.[tongue]

Reecie Meeker

No, a MAGA event was also held. It was advertised on social media, as well as at least one other event.

Doug Sivyer

What a shame. Large crowds and excessive alcohol. Always a recipe for disaster. Shut the event down. It's not worth the necessary resources to control it.
t the event down.

Kelly Naschke

How do you shut down an event with no formal sponsor and word of mouth chatter on a public beach?

Kelly Naschke

If you look at video on YouTube you will see that Jeeps are outnumbered by 10-1. What used to be a Jeep event has morphed into an event promoted by the likes of a group called “rednecks with paychecks”. The Jeep club that Is belong to hasn’t gone to Crystal Beach in over 3 years. There were about 300-400 of us at the San Luis pass. Not one call for police or other emergency services. It was a well attended event for the entire family. What went down on Crystal Beach wasn’t perpetrated by Jeepers.

Wayne Holt

I hope Galveston officials are paying attention. By no means are the events in downtown Galveston and on the Seawall nearly this rowdy or dangerous but the trend is definitely in the direction of more ordinance breaking with impunity. This has been a slowly gathering storm over the past three years.

It would be much better for the City to come up with a plan now on HOW to enforce ordinances in a way that is fair and doesn't kill enthusiasm for joining in, whether by residents or tourists. But just to let rowdies own the streets while they're here is a very bad idea. I am out and about downtown seven nights a week and most of the time, it is peaceful and feels safe to be there. But the insanity that ensues when the circus comes to town several times a year is like traveling to another planet.

We already know people now don't behave as civilly as was the norm in years past. The only question is what the City is going to do to keep things from getting more out of hand than they already have been allowed to.

Kelly Naschke

No offense Wayne.... but it’s obvious you weren’t here during the horrible Kappa years. Crystal Beach pales in comparison. Galveston has seen and done it.

Don Schlessinger

Well said Kelly!

Wayne Holt

No offense taken, Kelly. I wasn't here, but I am familiar with the history.

I am talking about conditions today but your comment is certainly relevant to the point I was raising. That is: if you let a trend of bad behavior continue with impunity, you will wind up with a Kappa situation or what Bolivar just experienced. What I have seen in about six years of downtown living is an annual increase in misbehavior, incredible levels of noise, drunken behavior, screaming and cursing on the streets at all hours, fireworks use and other affronts during large events. The last two have been the worst.

What is the City waiting for this time? Does it have to get as bad as Kappa or Bolivar before someone understands there is clear difference between welcoming tourism and turning a blind eye to law breaking? Not being a native here, I don't understand why Galveston seems to telegraph it is afraid to enforce reasonable standards of public behavior for fear of dissuading folks from coming here. There should be a very visible police presence and a zero tolerance policy of enforcement before things start to get out of hand. The time to be Officer Friendly isn't in the middle of a Bacchanalia.

Our condo building was cited by the City for having one weed in the alley behind us that was a little too tall to pass muster. Another time we got a letter stating they would cover over some graffiti if we didn't snap to it and would put a lien on the building for the cost of their sterling effort.

I would really like to know why people who pay many thousands of dollars in property taxes each year are subjected to this kind of scrutiny while outrageous behavior for off-islanders here for the weekend is simply ignored.

Earl Maura

maybe it is time to either ran in this event or totally end it.Back in the 70's when I was growing up on Long island NY, I'd spend many weekends on Fire Island where at any given day during the summer as many as 30,000 local high school kids would get together and party , drink a few beers smoke a little pot ,at the end of the day nobody got out of control,nobody was starting fights, rarely if ever did we even see police on patrol. What the hell is wrong with these people! Their so uncool!

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