'Go Topless Jeep' festival descends into chaos with over 100 arrested amid brawls and DWIs
GALVESTON COUNTY, TEXAS: More than 100 people were arrested and over 30 others had to be taken to the hospital after they were injured at a beach festival in Texas. Galveston County Sheriff's deputies responded to reports of assaults, brawls and DWIs at the 'Go Topless Jeep', a beach festival for jeep enthusiasts. This year, however, the number of arrests declined from 2021, when over 200 partygoers were put behind bars.
This year, police had to deal with incidents of car crashes, public intoxication, drunk driving, and vehicle burglary among other offenses. At least 38 people had to be rushed to hospitals, some of them via helicopter, to be treated for their injuries. One woman was reportedly even shot in her buttocks.
The weekend-long event was held at Crystal Beach on Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. The annual event witnesses chaos and arrests nearly every year. Residents of the area have requested authorities to ban the festival in recent years, claiming that Crystal Beach is left trashed following the event. On Saturday, May 21, more than 40,000 Jeep aficionados took to Crystal Beach for the celebration. Galveston County Emergency Services and other state and county authorities had been preparing for the festival over several months.
Among those who were arrested was 22-year-old drunk driver Darius Danzell Gilbert, who ran over deputy sergeant John Hamm. Hamm reportedly suffered two broken legs and head injuries. Hamm responded to a crash around 1:30 am on Sunday, May 22, when he was run over by Gilbert, of Jefferson County. The sergeant was severely injured and underwent surgery. Gilbert was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and is being held on $100,000 bond at present.
"He nearly went through the windshield," Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset told abc13. "He was flown by medical helicopter to UTMB. He has compound fractures of both legs, a broken arm and head injuries. He was conscious and talking. He was going into surgery Sunday morning."
"We've had about 100 Deputies working Jeep Weekend," Trochesset added. "Here comes Memorial Day weekend and more big crowds just around the corner. I hope people will be more responsible." "People need to be responsible," he continued. "They seem to leave their brakes behind when they come to the Bolivar Peninsula. They wouldn't want people to treat their place like that."
Galveston County Emergency Services District said that the crowd has increased remarkably this year. "There has been a significant increase in the size of the crowds this year, additional resources to support those already in place have been requested to ensure that emergency services are available for the protection of both the first responders and residents of the Bolivar Peninsula," it announed in a statement.
The Texas Open Beaches Act allows for free public use of the beach. It is impossible to limit the crowd numbers. Trochesset explained that the only way to handle the situation is through a larger police presence.