Beach-goers could soon face hefty fine for going out onto Tybee Island sandbar

Fine considered for Tybee Island sandbar

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - At a public safety meeting Thursday morning, Tybee city leaders discussed the possibility of imposing a fine for people going out to the sandbar.

It comes in the wake of some very dangerous and deadly situations where swimmers have been caught too far away from shore. Committee members say they are trying to make things safer at beach.

Although the city already has an ordinance that says you can’t go 50 yards off shore, committee members plan to add a fine to give the ordinance more teeth. City Manager Shawn Gillen says Wednesday night, there was an example of sandbar problems. He says they had cleared sandbar - and it was well past the tide shift - but the tide came back, and two swimmers swam out to the furthest part of the sand bar at the most dangerous time of the day. Only part of the sandbar was visible. Gillen says they had to put firefighters on jet skis to rescue them, and the swimmers could’ve easily drowned.

Gillen says by adding a fine, they hope people will understand just how dangerous the sandbar can really be. The fine will also cover resources and firefighters they send out to rescue people - also putting their guys in harm’s way. They say people who are surfing, kayaking, jet skiing, or paddle boating would be exempt from the fine.

The fine would target anyone not wearing a flotation device.

“With the people that go out there, they don’t have a full understanding of the danger there, so one thing that the committee has asked us to do is look into additional signage saying ‘no swimming’ and 'stay off the sandbar’ statements, very brief, and then also putting a sign up that says ‘you will be fined up to $1,000 for going out onto the sandbar.’ It’s a big change in how we do things, but it is that serious," Gillen said.

This proposal will now go before the City Council Thursday night for approval.

City leaders say they will put up signs warning about the fine and add more “no swimming” signs before tickets start.

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