“The car was right there next to the pier,” said Lisa Rodriguez. “The guy was joyriding then his car got stuck; he took off and left his drunk girlfriend in the car.”
On September 4, I saw Rodriguez with her dog by the pier. She’s a lifetime resident of Imperial Beach and said that the joyride happened on Thursday at around 4 am; her Facebook-buddy captured the photo and posted it.
“I’ve haven’t seen that (civilians driving on the beach) since the 1980s, when we were allowed,” she said, “but recently it’s like one after another.”
Another IB-er saw the the photo and reminisced with Rodriguez. “I [too] remember back in the day when we were allowed to drive on the beach and we used to haul wooden pallets there and burn them — those were the days.”
A family of five visiting from Chandler AZ asked if I could take a group portrait of them by the pier entrance; I obliged.
“On Saturday (September 1), I saw a white Jeep out on the sand by the pier and I was wondering,” Scott (the father) said. “You can’t drive on the beach anymore, right? We weren’t sure with the area.”
I replied: “No, I believe only lifeguards, law enforcement and first responders can …. unless on super-rare occasions, if there’s a car show and it’s regulated just to park.”
A guy with a metal detector and a shovel was digging in the same area where the joyrider got stuck. “I remember seeing a car out in the water and they had to pull it out with a tow truck,” he said, “but how can a tow truck even get in here?”
Rodriguez pointed to Cow-A-Bunga, the ice cream store by the playground, “there’s an entrance over there and one here by the lifeguard station.”
I knocked on the Dempsey Holder Safety Center doors, showed the lifeguard my press pass and he granted me access. I then showed the lifeguards the photo of the joy rider’s car by the pier.
“No, we didn’t catch that on our cameras,” said one of the lifeguards, “but that’s our pier [in the photo].”
The other lifeguard said he saw tire tracks by the spot and that the sheriff probably handled it before they arrived in the morning.
“We did catch this, though,” said the first lifeguard, as he played a video that their camera captured on August 21. It was of a SUV that was driven into their surf by the 1600 block of Seacoast Drive — and then ditched. “He was drunk too,” said the lifeguard.