A popular steeplechase race event in Camden was marred Saturday by some extracurricular activities that resulted in the arrests of over 225 students this past weekend.
A rite of spring in South Carolina is the Carolina Cup– considered one of the elite equestrian events in the entire Southeast. However, Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) deputies say the event was marred by underage drinking, fights, and dangerous levels of intoxication. Sheriff Jim Matthews said 225 students were arrested Saturday at the event’s College Park area, compared to only 8 outside the section that hosts mostly students.
“The Cup is actually a very fine event… for the most part, it’s a well-behaved crowd that comes out to watch the horses and have a good time,” Matthews said, “However College Park, which was created because the college students were ruining it for everybody else, is kind of a black eye for the whole event.”
Matthews said he had 45 deputies working the College Park area, along with the State Law Enforcement Division and University of South Carolina police. He said the biggest problem was excessive drinking, but said there were also several fights. Officers also caught a couple having sex in the KCSO’s mounted patrol horse trailer.
Matthews said deputies likely saved one student’s life after finding her unconscious on a couch and taking her to EMS personnel. He said the EMS workers could barely detect a heartbeat and told him the girl could have died had the officers not stepped in.
“That’s what we try to prevent,” Matthews said.
Not all of the 225 students were actually taken into custody. Many were instead given tickets for underaged drinking. The sheriff said he did not have the manpower, or the jail facilities, to handle every person who could be taken into custody.
Matthews believes the Carolina Cup is a good event for the Camden area and that he wants to continue it in the future. However, he said something needs to be done by officials to clamp down on College Park in the future. “I can only crack down so hard with my limited personnel,” he said Tuesday.
“There are enough smart people around to come up with some good ideas and there has to be a willingness to maybe make some changes,” Matthews said.