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What deputies say led to 230 arrests at 'very taxing' annual Texas Jeep weekend event

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Posted at 10:54 PM, May 21, 2023

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas — A weekend of rowdiness that authorities say included public drunkenness and disorderly conduct at an annual Jeep gathering in Texas led to about 230 arrests, authorities said.

The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office said it had been preparing for three months ahead of the popular annual Crystal Beach event, according to Maj. Ray Nolen.

“This event is usually very taxing on our resources,” Nolen told reporters on Sunday. He added more than 120 law enforcement officers were at the event, which spans from Thursday to Sunday.

Most of those arrested face misdemeanor charges, Nolen said. More than 200 charges were filed on Saturday alone, according toCNN affiliate KTRK.

The unofficial event – known mostly through word of mouth – involves tens of thousands of people flocking to the beach in Jeeps and other vehicles to drink and party, according to CNN affiliate KRPC.

But each year, along with droves of music-blaring beachgoers parked and driving feet away from the Gulf waters come dozens of arrests and hospitalizations, KRPC reported.

The wild event got so out of control last year, a sheriff’s deputy sergeant’s legs and an arm were broken after he was hit by a car while directing traffic, according to KTRK.

The yearly event started out as a gathering solely for Jeep fans, but that changed over the last several years as the event increasingly drew crowds who weren’t Jeep enthusiasts, Nolen said.

Official Jeep clubs and fans began to pull away from the Crystal Beach area, located along Texas’ Bolivar Peninsula that borders the Gulf of Mexico, to meet elsewhere in the state, Nolen said – but that hasn’t stopped others from coming into the area.

Nolen told CNN emergency crews responded to approximately 65 service calls on Crystal Beach in connection with the Jeep event.

EMS workers took about 40 people to the hospital “for various minor injuries and illnesses” since the event began Thursday, Nolen told reporters Sunday.

The chaotic partying has turned deadly in past years: One person died at the 2021 event, and another death was reported in 2019, according to KTRK.

“We’re just trying to maintain order and keep everybody safe,” Nolen said.