TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – As tens of thousands of college students continued a second day of a controversial beach party on Tybee Island, people who live there continue to be critical of the small law enforcement presence among the crowd.
Sunday, six Georgia State Troopers were added to increase officers patrolling the crowd at Orange Crush.
In a press release, Tybee Island’s mayor estimates as many as 40,000 to 50,000 people visited the island over the weekend.
“This year’s event was admittedly too large and chaotic,” Mayor Shirley Sessions said. “But at the end of the day, Tybee Island is fortunate that no lives were lost and no property destroyed.”
At least 10 people were treated for overdoses on Saturday alone. Chatham County Police tells WSAV’s Investigative Unit it rushed two and a half cases of Narcan to the island on Saturday. Law enforcement sources tell Lead Investigative Reporter Brett Buffington two of those overdoses were during a large beach gathering near the pier.
Both the Savannah Police Department and Chatham County Police Department tell WSAV neither agency was requested by Tybee Island Police to assist with the event. Despite that, Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley and Chatham Sheriff Chief Deputy Gary Taylor both say Tybee Island’s new police chief did more to prepare for the event than had been done in years past.
“Ninety-five percent of these people are good college kids here for a beach party. They’re not causing the problem.” Chief Deputy Taylor said, adding, “This is a public beach.”
As of Sunday morning, Chatham EMS said it had responded to two shooting calls and 11 car crashes. A day before traffic crashes made traveling to Tybee Island almost impossible, prompting an order from Georgia’s governor to add additional troopers to patrol along Highway 80.
Video from the beach party Sunday captured cars burning out in the Hotel Tybee parking lot, first responders searching through crowds and people “twerking” atop tables at the Tybee Island pier.
The city says despite untrue rumors of fires, fatalities and lockdowns, the unpermitted party included none of those things.
Even with the estimate of as many as 50,000 people, Tybee Island, in a press release, says the event was staffed by only 53 first responders, including 40 police officers and 13 fire-rescue personnel.