For at least the second time in the last month, another truck got buried in the surf on Elmer’s Island Sunday, and an enforcement agent with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries urged beachgoers to use caution when parking their vehicles.
“What they’re doing is miscalculating the tides,” Sgt. Nick Guillory said. “The sandbars on Elmer’s Island are ever-changing. They’re going out there when it’s low tide and the sand is packed, so the vehicles can drive on it. However, they’re not taking into consideration that nine times out of 10, that area is underwater.
“So as the water is coming up, it’s slowly sinking their vehicles. And when they finally realize it, they try to put it in 4-wheel drive and stomp it to get out, and end up burying themselves.”
It’s easy to get caught up in having fun on the island, and Guillory said it doesn’t take much for even a 4-wheel drive truck to get stuck.
“They’re either swimming or they’re fishing and by the time they look back, the vehicle has sunk 2 or 3 inches from just the sand being wet,” he said. “That doesn’t sound like much, but whenever it’s compacted against all four tires, when you try to get out you’re just going to go down instead of backwards.”
Depending on the circumstances, drivers who get themselves stuck in the surf could receive a ticket, he said.
“You could be issued a citation, however the agent will take into consideration how you got there. In other words, if you were cutting up and tearing the beach up and got yourself stuck, you’ll be receiving a citation,” Guillory said. “However, if you were out there and you were 100-percent legal and you just didn’t calculate the tides, then you won’t be issued a citation.”
Whether you receive a ticket or not, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for all expenses related to removing it from the surf, he said.
“Whether you use a tow truck, a tractor or a boom truck, you are financially responsible for getting your own vehicle out,” Guillory said. “And if in that process the beach gets torn up, they also have to fix any damage caused to the beach.”
A good rule of thumb is to stay off the sandbars and remain at least 50 to 100 feet from the water. And right now, Guillory recommends non-4-wheel-drive vehicles stay close to the main access road.
“I would recommend if you have a car or two-wheel drive vehicle, not to go across that sand. Park at the end of the road where it meets the beach portion, and walk to the beach because you will probably get stuck since the sand is so powdery right now,” he said. “There hadn’t been any rain to pack it — it’s almost like Florida sand right now. Those little cars and two-wheel drive vehicles just aren’t cutting it.”
As of now, Guillory said he was unaware of any talks about restricting vehicle access on the island because of the trucks stuck recently — but that could change.
“We hadn’t had discussions about that at the moment, but I can assure you if it keeps happening, there will be discussions here in the future,” he said.
Elmer's Island officially opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset, and Guillory reminded everyone that glass bottles are not permitted on the beach.