Big Talbot Island is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, about one mile (1.6km) east of Little Talbot Island and south of Hobe Sound on SR A1A in Broward County, Florida. It has a land area of 4.7 acres (1.9ha), no resident population, and it lies at the mouth of the Intracoastal Waterway. The name “Big Talbot” was given to this island because it was once used as a prison farm where large quantities of produce were grown for prisoners. In recent years, the island has been developed as a private recreational facility with docks that can accommodate up to 100 private boats and a full-service marina.
Visitors also use the facilities at the park for their horseback riding activities. There are two trails available; both start and end on the beach. One goes north along the shoreline to Pompano Beach and the other goes west through the forest to Lake Worth. Both go around Pompano’s Wilderness/Rimco Preserve. On Saturday, February 16, 2010, there was a sudden loss of power on the island during early morning hours. According to officials from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, three men who were out jogging became stranded when they encountered high tide. They called 911 and waited for rescue crews to arrive. However, due to the remote nature of the location, communication problems arose between the men and rescue workers. Rescue attempts ended unsuccessfully that day, but not before two of the men died of exposure.
On Sunday, February 17, 2010, police investigators confirmed that alcohol poisoning had likely killed Andrew Johnson, age 43, and Gregory Coleman, 20, both of Oakland, California, after they ran out of food and water. Investigators said they found empty bottles of liquor and cans of beer in the sand near their bodies. Their deaths were ruled accidental. Scott Denny, 35, survived by himself in a tent on the island. He told authorities he had only gone to the island to get some solitude following the death of his wife and infant daughter in a house fire four months earlier. When rescuers arrived, they found him unconscious and taken to hospital, where he remained in critical condition.
After a long delay, Denny recovered consciousness and was released from the hospital. His family donated his organs upon his death in June 2011, saving five lives. Following the 2010 incident, changes were made to the access policy at Big Talbot Island so that all boaters must now register with any state. Additionally, new dock construction began which included flood control features such as groins and pilings. Finally, overnight mooring buoys were installed off the coast of the island.
No fee is charged to enter the park or to enjoy its amenities. Accessibility for the disabled was assessed by DEP in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a result, DEP concluded that the island met the minimum requirements for accessibility set forth in the act. The assessment found issues regarding access to certain areas of the park, primarily the inland waterways. These areas will be accessible via boat launch ramps located within the Intracoastal Waterway. Other issues identified by DEP related to accessibility of beaches, parking lots, picnic shelters, bathhouses, bike paths, and boardwalks. While these issues remain, DEP stated that overall, Big Talbot Island is accessible to the disabled community.