TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Tybee City Council held an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss funding for the immediate removal of city vehicles that had been stuck in the marsh for days.
The council says that it cost $19,200 just to have two of the remaining vehicles and equipment removed from the federally protected marsh. That doesn’t even include the cost that the city will incur to replace those vehicles.
According to city officials, the vehicles sunk deeper into the sand over the last five days. The city says they are in talks with their insurance company. They expect to be reimbursed for this $19,200, taking the money out of the police fund, but will pay the $2,500 deductible. Nevertheless, these vehicles are complete losses after sitting in salt water for five days.
Residents came to find out and hear from leaders about this ongoing ordeal.
“There’s a lot of speculation about why there was a vehicle in the area of the marsh that it ended up being in," said Shirley Wright, a resident of Tybee Island. "We aren’t going to have anything further to say until we get the results of the investigation.”
That transparency is what City Manager Shawn Gillen promised would come out at the end of the investigation.
City officials also say they’ll send out more information about the timeline of events and what exactly led to all of these vehicles becoming stuck once it is made apparent.
Visitors riding on Captain Mike’s dolphin tours over the last five days could not believe the vehicles just sinking deeper and deeper into the sand as the ride comes in.
“A lot of them were laughing. A lot of them were like, ‘Wow, look at that.’ Of course, my husband was like ‘They are never going to get that out of there,’” said Tybee island visitor, Ashley Lynch. “It was a big boo boo and I’m sure it’s going to cost them lots of money to get them out.”
Visitors aren’t the only ones talking. Residents want answers, too.
“There’s certainly an expectation that the city employees and the police department, perhaps especially the police department, would be held to the same standard as citizens and tourists,” Tybee resident, Shirley Wright said.
Residents are still wondering how a Tybee police officer got an ATV stuck in federally protected marshlands, where no one should be.
“We were promised by the City Council and the city manager that there will be an investigation and that it will be made public. We’ve also been assured in this council meeting that there will be personnel actions taken as a result of inappropriate actions.”
The nearly $20,000 isn’t the grand total. It doesn’t include money to replace the damaged vehicles and equipment or the fines Tybee Island could face from the Department of Natural Resources.
Crews lifted the vehicles out of the marsh using a barge and crane Thursday during high tide.