Warm weather and Facebook networking led to a huge crowd in Isla Vista over the weekend for Deltopia — a springtime bonanza that has morphed out of the infamous Floatopia event that was shut down by authorities a few years back out of concern for people’s safety.
But Deltopia is now turning into the April version of Isla Vista’s notorious Halloween bashes, which regularly draw thousands of out-of-town college-aged students to party. This year’s Deltopia, according to estimates, was attended by 15,000-18,000 people. Last year, authorities saw a crowd of about 8,000-10,000.
Tragically, one out-of-towner, a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, was found dead Saturday morning on the beach near Campus Point. Authorities haven’t said much about what happened to Giselle Ayala, 18, but did say Tuesday morning an autopsy showed injuries “consistent with a fall.” The victim’s mother told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat at a Monday night memorial that she had been informed by detectives Ayala likely fell from a cliff after a party. Deputies were breaking up a party, the newspaper said, and the “environment apparently became chaotic as the party disbanded and authorities suspect that as everyone quickly scattered in the dark, Ayala fell from a cliff.” She was in town for Deltopia, authorities said.
Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said she was “greatly saddened” by the news of Ayala’s death. Efforts to make things safer — shutting down the beach to keep large groups of intoxicated people out of the water — haven’t worked, Farr said. “Going forward we need to redouble our efforts to see what we can put together,” she said. “Our main job is people’s safety.” Her office is currently seeking more lights for Isla Vista streets at night. “Obviously, we’re going to have to do more,” Farr said.
Saturday, there were 23 arrests made and 71 citations issued for a variety of crimes, including fights, assaults, battery, public intoxication, and theft. There were 59 traffic citations, including five DUI arrests and five towed vehicles. Law enforcement had 440 calls for service — 200 more than last year — while County Fire responded to 70-plus calls. Forty-four people were taken to the hospital for alcohol intake and injuries, triple the number from last year. Some injuries came when a balcony holding a bunch of partiers collapsed.
“Because of the growth of the event, the dangers involved with underage drinking and the number of people being injured,” Hoover said, “next year the Sheriff’s office is working with the County, UCSB, and law enforcement agencies to determine ways to make the event safer.”