Mustang Daily Staff Report
The spring break event Deltopia, held near University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) this past weekend, drew 15,000 to 18,000 people to Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista, five to 10 thousand more people than last year, according to a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office press release.
Although environmental management and protection sophomore Matt Norcott attended the event, and said he didn’t think the scene was out of control, he said hoards of people stretched across the lawns and balconies of the neighborhood.
“People were on every balcony,” Norcott said. “There usually were five or six people on every other car. Everybody had huge squirt guns and some were filled with alcohol and they were shooting them at everyone who walked by.”
Norcott said he saw a lot of police officers giving citations for open containers or public drunkenness, but that overall, the scene felt like a typical college party.
The number of calls to law enforcement increased from 243 in 2012 to 440 this year, according to the sheriff’s office. Of those calls, 44 resulted in transportations to the hospital for injuries or alcohol consumption.
The sheriff’s department and University of California Police Department gave 71 citations and made 23 arrests for fighting, assault, battery, sexual battery, public intoxication and theft, according to preliminary numbers released by the sheriff’s department.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover said in light of the huge turnout, the number of law enforcement calls and the death of Cal Poly sociology freshman Giselle Ayala, local law enforcement will examine many possibilities to prevent another tragedy from occurring next year.
“We’re looking at all of our options,” Hoover said. “We’re meeting with county, UCSB and all of our public safety entities to discuss measures that we can take to make the event safer.”
Deltopia, previously known as Floatopia, was renamed a few years ago when local beaches were closed in an effort to curb the environmental impact of the event on the coast.
“We shut down the beaches, and they … moved it into town, to Del Playa (Drive),” Hoover said.
The partygoers have flooded Del Playa Drive, which stretches alongside the cliffs overlooking the ocean in Isla Vista, in previous years, although the crowd of more than 15,000 this year was unprecedented.
It became clear Saturday morning that Deltopia hadn’t passed without tragedy striking when Ayala was found deceased in the surf.
An autopsy conducted by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff Coroner’s Office on Tuesday found that Ayala sustained injuries consistent with a fall from the cliffs near where she was found.
Following Ayala’s death, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong and Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey informed the Cal Poly community of her death with an email Sunday morning.
“In times like these,” they wrote, “we ask that all members of our community uphold the principles of The Mustang Way and exercise the extra care for each other that will help us face this challenge.”
Holly Dickson contributed to this staff report.