Well, this didn’t go well. This past weekend a group of over 5,000 Phoenix-area off-roaders invaded the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. The off-road bacchanal converged without permits to drag race, drink, and dance to a live band. All of this off-road chaos led to many arrests and also many accidents.
Who organized this off-roader chaos?
The event was organized through Facebook though the police say they’re still trying to determine who was responsible. The Pirates Offroad Club of Phoenix did pass out flyers leading up to April 3, 2021, mayhem. The flyer proclaimed “no gunshots, no littering, and family-friendly.
Everyone was invited to attend. That’s a generous invitation. The problem was that 5,000 people took up the Pirates on their offer. But how could you resist “Tacos La Klara” and “DJ Ice?” And the topper was “Entrada Gratis” which is “Entry is Free.” A free party is hard to turn down.
It was ATVs, 4x4s, and warm bodies all weekend. Unfortunately, this is protected land with its national forest designation. To gather a group of over 75 people you need a permit. Needless to say, no permit was pulled for the off-road rave.
So, what’s wrong with a few off-roaders getting together for some fun?
And as you might guess there were accidents. Some led to injuries-some serious. In the Lower Sycamore section of the park, two ATVs collided leading to injuries serious enough to airlift one of those involved. At least seven accidents involving off-road vehicles were also reported. A few off-road 4x4s were also stolen.
Besides the fireworks blowing off continuously the limited staff of 20 Forest Protection Officers had their hands full. They were rifling off violations for double-riding, DUIs aplenty, reckless driving, and more. This didn’t deter the off-roaders and they were back the next day for more forest frolic.
People got hurt
I’m sure people had fun down there, but people got hurt,” Mesa District Ranger Matthew Lane told Arizona’s FOX10. “People got hurt from this event, and we’re lucky nobody died.” Indeed. But it should be noted that a group of the off-roaders came back to clean up all of the trash left behind.
Maybe it’s time to remind you of the Outdoor Code: “As an American, I will do my best to be clean in my outdoor manners, be careful with fire, be considerate in the outdoors, and be conservation-minded.” Unfortunately, if these words are not taken seriously the National Forest Service closes down places like Tonto. If that happens here it amounts to 5,000 people screwing future opportunities to take in the beauty of this particular public area.