Tybee mayor, city council doing 'everything in their power' to put an end to Orange Crush

Tybee mayor, city council doing 'everything in their power' to put an end to Orange Crush

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - Tybee Mayor Jason Buelterman is making a vow to keep Orange Crush off the beach after a violent shooting Saturday, multiple situations involving violence and shots fired and trash left behind.

According to the Chatham County Sheriff's Office, from Friday, April 16 through Sunday, April 17 there were 45 arrests, 13 of those were felony arrests. Some of those arrests were drug and gun-related charges. One person was injured after being shot and the Rape Crisis Center said one woman was sexually assaulted.

WTOC went door to door to businesses, some telling us they had larger crowds this weekend than the 4th of July but made less money for reasons like shoplifting and less tips. One hotel owner said he stayed up all weekend because he was concerned about his safety.

John Zuercher and his wife were staying at Sky Suites for part of the weekend and said they couldn't help but feel sorry for the owner.

"He told me in his little hotel like two people would check in and then the next morning, eight would come out of the room," he said. 

The hotel owner said he's dealt with everything from cleaning vomit out of his parking lot to finding bullets in one of the hotel rooms. Many businesses are hoping this was the last year of Orange Crush. 

Tybee City officials are putting together a taskforce of local and state officials to ban the event altogether but how do you stop folks from coming to Tybee to party?

Officials said they want to ban alcohol on the beach during Spring Break and enlist an even heavier police presence, similiar to the measures Panama City Beach has taken after several students were shot on the beach last month.

"It's just a little too big for Tybee. It really needs to find another beach," Zuercher said.

Tybee City Council will discussing the new task force at their meeting this Thursday and many local businesses said they plan to go.

WTOC was told the trash clean up was not as bad as previous years.

Tybee Public Works crews got to work early to clean up debris left over from the aftermath of Orange Crush on Tybee Island this past weekend.

Crews began cleaning around 6:45 a.m. Sunday morning, and have now put the final touches on getting the beach back to normal after hundreds of people joined together for the spring break party.


Mayor Buelterman and city council released the following statement:
“'The City of Tybee Island would like to thank the officers from our own Police Department and from all of our law enforcement partner agencies for their dedication to protecting our community during this past weekend. The willingness to risk their personal safety for the sake of others is worthy of our sincerest appreciation. We also would like to commend our volunteer fire fighters for all of their support as well as our City employees and all of the volunteers who cleaned the beach.

While the majority of attendees behaved responsibly, the risks to public safety posed by such large groups of young people under no responsible supervision have become unacceptable.

After approximately twenty five years, we have reached a tipping point and going forward will be doing everything in our power to put an end to this event while, of course, maintaining a public beach for everyone. In order to prevent a recurrence of the island-wide threat to public safety that occurred this weekend, the City will be creating a task force of local and state officials as well as local residents and business owners whose charge will be to make specific recommendations that could include banning of alcohol on the beach during such events, enlisting an even heavier law enforcement presence, utilizing solutions developed by other beach communities that are faced with similar challenges, and other possible solutions. We will also work with our partners at the federal level to seek their input and assistance.

We look forward to working with our community and our partners at all levels of government to address this challenge in a responsible manner.

Finally, we are keeping the victim of Saturday's gun violence in our thoughts and prayers and hope that he has a speedy recovery.”

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