Parents Concerned About Underage Drinking in Park

By  | 

Many people spent the weekend celebrating Memorial Day, but some Eau Claire parents are complaining about a party at a local county park, with hundreds of underage kids and plenty of alcohol.

They say it was a party the Eau Claire County Sheriff's Department refused to break up. Robin Earsom says she had to go out to Big Falls Park on Monday to pick up her intoxicated 16-year old daughter. When she got there, she says she couldn't believe what she was seeing. She says the river was full of hundreds of underage high school students, many of whom were drunk.

"Drinking, smoking, drinking, smoking. Lots of drinking, and it was so hot. There was no food, there was no water; there was just alcohol. So it goes right to their head, and they're swimming and jumping off the rocks, they can't even walk straight,” Earsom said.

Earsom says she called the sheriff's department, and two deputies came out to check on her complaint, but she says those two deputies said they weren't equipped to handle the situation. Earsom says something has to be done, or kids could get hurt or worse.

WEAU talked to Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer Tuesday afternoon. He says his department just doesn't have enough people to take care of a large party like that, even if underage kids are involved. Cramer also told us that breaking up a large party on the river can be dangerous for the underage drinkers. He says sometimes, it's safer to simply let them keep drinking, and figure out ways to enforce the law, next time.

"One of the things we're concerned about is the safety. If we have 200 or 300 people on the island, and law enforcement officers show up, and there's been underage drinking going on or smoking of marijuana, you're going to have a lot of kids run. And run off the rocks, try to get into the water and some of those people quite frankly are not real good swimmers, and we're going to have a tragedy," Cramer said.

Sheriff Cramer told us there used to be a park patrol years ago to help curb underage drinking in the parks, but money for those officers was cut from the budget by the county board. He also told us ultimately it's up to parents to know where their children are, and the Sheriff's Department can't be expected to break up every underage drinking party, because his deputies are just too busy.