Extra lifeguards added near Tybee Island sandbar

Extra lifeguards added near Tybee Island sandbar

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - This past weekend, the City of Tybee started issuing tickets to people who go out onto the sandbar. So far, several warnings and tickets were given out.

The mayor says it's not something the city wants to do, but it's just too dangerous of an area so more enforcement was needed.

Well, the city says it's been evident that these warning signs just aren't enough and quite frankly it wasn't stopping people from going out to the sandbar. A ticket, however, has already been an incentive for people to resist taking the walk out.

This past weekend the Tybee Island Code Enforcement team, lifeguards and police added one more thing to their watch list. They're watching for people who ignore the signs and take to the sandbar.

“Most people think that’ all that they’re doing. They’re just enjoying a nice little walk out to the sandbar. They don’t have any idea, despite the warning, in spite of the explanation, they still think that it’s safe walk and it isn’t,” Tybee Mayor Shirley Sessions said.

Seven tickets and multiple warnings were given out this weekend. A ticket can cost up to $1,000.

Mayor Sessions says most of them were warnings because people aren't realizing the consequences just yet.

“After they’ve been warned, the citations are the next step,” she said.

Mayor Sessions says the city has added more lifeguards to the south end of the beach where the sandbar is. They've also extended the lifeguards' hours as well.

"We hope that the public will help us. If you see someone who is about to take that leap of faith, encourage them not to."

The sandbar has been a spot where many have lost their lives. Sessions says she wouldn't be opposed to memorializing those people by writing their names and the date they died on a sign near the sandbar.

"Sometimes it may take seeing a name and a date for some people to realize that these are just not threats. These are real people who've lost their lives."

Council has also discussed other options to discourage people from going on the sandbar if ticketing doesn't help in the long run.

"If it takes that, closing a portion of the beach that takes you to the sandbar. I don't foresee that happening, but that is something that has been mentioned."

Mayor Sessions says the city will be putting the specific information about the fine on signs as soon as possible.

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