'Polar Bear' related ER visits in Carbondale up from last year

'Polar Bear' related ER visits in Carbondale up from last year

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Southern Illinois Healthcare saw a sharp increase in injuries related to the Polar Bear Party weekend in Carbondale, Illinois compared to 2015.

In 2016, emergency room visits at the Memorial Hospital of Carbondale were up by 50 percent from the previous year, according to SIH Communications Coordinator Rosslind Rice.

At least 30 people were treated for Polar Bear weekend-related injuries, Rice said in a statement. The increase can be attributed to alcohol and assault related incidents.

The 15th Annual Polar Bear Party was hosted by an area bar called Pinch Penny Pub.

According to Carbondale police, their officers, along with officers from the SIU Department of Public Safety and Illinois State Police, monitored activities associated with Polar Bear events.

Carbondale police have released a preliminary total of 116 citations being issued to 97 individuals. They say there were 52 citations for underage possession or consumption of alcohol; 38 for public possession of alcohol; six for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; three each for public urination and resisting a peace officer, two each for fighting, amplified sound, unlawful use of weapons and aggravated battery; and one each for providing alcohol to a minor, cannabis, drug paraphernalia, obstructing justice, disorderly conduct and aggravated battery of a police officer.

Of those citations, police say 101 were for violations on public property, such as a street or sidewalk, or on private property.

They say the remaining 15 violations were inside or outside of the licensed liquor establishments during compliance checks.

Of those violations, police say eight were at Pinch Penny Pub and seven were at Levels.

Of the 97 people issued citations, police say 67 of those cited reported they were currently students enrolled at a college or university, with 42 indicating they were SIU students, 25 indicating they were students at another college or university and the remaining 30 either refused to provide their status as a student or who have yet to be identified as a student currently enrolled in a college or university.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale third year student, Erik Sabo, said this was the third Polar Bear Party he attended.

"I didn't see anything to crazy but the cops were out and were trying to keep people together," Sabo said. "There were still a lot of people out, a lot of people having fun. And just being regular college kids I guess."

Owner of Sam's Cafe in Carbondale, Yasir Ibrahim, said his business made record sales.

Ibrahim has owned and operated his restaurant for 25 years.

"To me we didn't have any problems. The crowds were perfect you know they were all having fun," Ibrahim said. "Even when they were in line over here, drunk, waiting for their food, they were happy."

Ibrahim attributes the record crowds to the warmer temperatures. As a business owner, Ibrahim said he would like to see more events like Polar Bear.

The Carbondale Police Department and the SIUC Department of Public Safety is still compiling how many citations and arrests were made related to the Polar Bear weekend.

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