By Olivia Rodriguez
Nobody wants to end up like former Brookhaven College student Derek Madrigal who visited South Padre Island, Texas, for spring break. He ended up in the intensive care unit after being assaulted.
During spring break, many college students head to the coast for some sand, sun and sea to get away from school and work. Madrigal was stabbed and beaten by a group of men in March 2012, who were reportedly members of the Texas Mexican Mafia, while trying to defend a woman who was being harassed, according to the Dallas Observer.
Many students head out of town to popular beaches in locations such as Florida, Mexico and Jamaica. However, South Padre Island was rated the No. 1 destination for spring break in Texas, according to Houston Press. Molly Feltner, senior editor for smartertravel.com, wrote, “College-age students visiting popular spring break resorts should be aware of the inherent risk that comes with visiting such places.”
According to Protection One, a security systems services company, spring break is the time when students journey to popular travel destinations. The website states, “Traveling requires more responsibility, so that you are prepared and know what precautions to take to keep yourself safe.”
Catie Kelemen, a student, said, “Safety is usually something I subconsciously think about, and not something I have to make an effort to do.” Although she said she does not often go to parties, Kelemen suggests calling an Uber or other ride-hailing services, or having a designated driver to help people get home safely.
Feltner advises travelers to use recommended shuttle services or buses to get around, using only reputable, licensed taxi services.
Tyler Sizemore, a student, said he always considers safety when planning for spring break. Sizemore said his mode of transportation is established beforehand and he stays away from highly active and violent areas to stay safe and out of trouble.
Students should research their destination before embarking on a spring break adventure, Feltner said. She suggests travelers check the U.S. State Department’s travel website, which lists Consular Information Sheets, documents informing the public of conditions abroad that may affect their safety and security, for about 170 countries.
“Spring break is ultimately a time to have fun, but safety is always necessary as well,” Morgan Alvarez, a student, said. She said it is best to never go anywhere alone and to always have emergency money.