Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Wednesday, Jan. 17 @ 5:12 p.m. / Emergencies
Crescent City Weighs Options Deterring Would-be Adventurers From Venturing Onto Jetty; Army Corps Reps To Visit
The incident didn’t require an emergency response, but it was enough for Crescent City Police Chief Richard Griffin and Public Works Director Dave Yeager to suggest a warning to parents that taking their child onto the jetty could result in child endangerment charges.
Two days before they spoke to City Councilors on Tuesday, three adults had taken a young child as far out onto the jetty as you could easily get, Griffin said.
Officers responded at about 3:44 p.m. Sunday and watched while made it back to safety. Search & Rescue volunteers weren’t required to deploy, but there were waves breaking over the jetty, the police chief told the Wild Rivers Outpost.
Griffin said his officer counseled the adults about the danger they put themselves in, but there’s not much else they can do.
“We can watch,” he told counselors. “We can hope they don’t get washed off and if they do get washed off we can call Search & Rescue, but it’s not illegal for them to be out there. It’s not our property to enforce. It has to come from the Army Corps of Engineers to give us the authority to enforce a trespass.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the jetty, will send representatives to Crescent City on Jan. 31, according to Yeager. He said he plans to convene a meeting with Crescent City Fire Chief Kevin Carey, Del Norte Search & Rescue volunteers and maybe the public.
Yeager said he hopes to discuss better signage and potentially approval from the Army Corps for the city to create a no-trespassing ordinance on the jetty. He said maybe the ordinance could include a warning about potential child endangerment charges for parents.
“[It’ll] let folks know there are teeth and not have them wander up there with their kids,” Yeager said. “It’ll give them that thought.”
According to Griffin, he, Yeager, Del Norte County Sheriff Garrett Scott and Search & Rescue volunteers met recently to discuss different options for ensuring people don’t put themselves in danger.
Griffin pointed out that one of Search & Rescue’s new warning signs is gone and needs to be replaced since it’s the “last warning on a bad day.” He suggested putting warning signs along the side of the jetty for those who climb up from the beach at low tide as well as a warning that people could be fined should their sojourn require an emergency response.
Griffin said one of the discussions included a potential $1,000 fine if up to five people from Del Norte Search & Rescue responded. The more rescuers needed, the higher the fine could be, he said.
“If you’re out on the jetty and you incur a response, maybe it’s a $3,000 fine,” Griffin said.
Griffin added that it’s typically people from out of the area who find themselves in trouble when venturing out onto the jetty. One incident he mentioned occurred during Thanksgiving weekend and involved a family from Utah being swept from the jetty.
In that situation, while one family member was a paramedic and was able to get them to safety, a teenage boy sustained facial injuries and needed to be transported to the hospital.
That incident also generated an emergency response between Crescent City police, Crescent City Fire & Rescue and Del Norte Ambulance. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter responded as well.
On Tuesday, Crescent City Mayor Blake Inscore said officials should also remind locals that walking onto the jetty is dangerous, not just visitors. He said he also thinks sticking a potential dollar figure onto a sign warning of fines wouldn’t necessarily be much of a deterrent.
“If we’re going to codify something we need to enforce it,” he said. “I don’t know if we have the manpower and time to spend watching the jetty. And if we’re not going to go out on to the jetty, we can’t sit there and wait for them to come off the jetty.”
Inscore’s colleague, Councilor Kelly Schellong disagreed.
“I feel like if I saw a sign that said if I pass this point I’m trespassing, I’m proceeding at my own risk, 82 people have died and bringing your child out here in bad weather conditions is child endangerment and you could be fined up to $12,000 should Search & Rescue have to come out here to save your life,” she said, “I’d be like, ‘I’m not going to go out there.’”