Town prepares to close bridge to beach if flash party erupts

Author: Stephen Dean, Investigative Reporter, sdean@kprc.com
Published On: Apr 20 2012 06:20:51 PM CDT
QUINTANA, Texas -

Residents of a tiny beach community near Freeport were notified that police plan to close the lone bridge to the island if a rumored beach party erupts over the weekend, Local 2 Investigates reported Friday.

"We're very concerned. We're scared. We love this place, we don't want anything to happen," said Susan Laws, who has lived and worked in the Village of Quintana for 12 years.

Town Hall in Quintana issued a notice to all residents and property owners, warning that police have "intercepted a message about the Texas Beach Party making its way to Bryan Beach."

The notice continues, "You may remember that this is the same event that led to the tragic scene at Surfside Easter weekend."

Brazoria County Sheriff Charles Wagner told Local 2 Investigates that his deputies will be stationed at the single two-lane bridge that links Freeport to the beach and the Village of Quintana. He said the bridge will be sealed off and the entire island closed if people start arriving in large groups.

A few miles north along the Gulf Coast, the Village of Surfside Beach was the latest flash party to develop over Easter weekend this month, when an estimated 20,000 people flooded onto the beach.

Cars were backed up for miles leading into Surfside Beach and residents said they were trapped in their homes with no way of calling for help as crowds grew out of control.

One person was shot and killed during the most recent party, now the third death tied to recent Houston area parties that are suddenly promoted on social media and other Internet sites.

Laws and other locals near Bryan Beach said they were afraid similar violence and chaos could break out in their tiny, hidden community.

"We want to keep it safe, secure, we have a lot of families," she said.

The notice from Quintana Town Hall said, "There is no imminent danger to the island."

However, Mayor Leon Cortese said police are ready.

"The concern is that we could have a situation such as Surfside had, where they had a backup of cars that was at one point uncontrollable," he said.

The notice to locals said that police will close the one bridge leading to the island if a party begins to develop.  Only people with stickers that are issued to local property owners would be allowed on the bridge if that happens, the mayor said.

"They will be watching for cars that have multiple personnel in there, party type situations, loud music, etc. coming to the island.  They obviously from the situation in Surfside know what to look for to close the beach," said Cortese.

Wagner said there has been no additional mention of the party online, so it may have been a rumor or a plan that has already been canceled.

Cortese said he would hope that the party-goers get the message that they are not welcome, which could keep the party from materializing in the first place.

He said the decision to close the island and the beach is a public safety concern, which he said is allowed because of 'homeland security' regulations that govern two local energy facilities.