Guilty Verdict in Out-of-Control Bar Wreck

By Dan Stamm
|  Tuesday, Jun 18, 2013  |  Updated 2:11 PM EDT
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Deadly Crash in Somers Point Leaves 2 Injured

NBCPhiladelphia.com

This fire hydrant was launched nearly a block, fire officials said.

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A driver who crashed into a South Jersey tavern killing a passenger and sending a fire hydrant into an innocent bystander faces a lengthy prison term after being convicted of aggravated manslaughter and vehicular homicide.

Antonio Vargas, 24, was allegedly intoxicated behind the wheel when he plowed his car into Gregory's Restaurant & Bar along the 900 block of Shore Road in Somers Point in January 2011.

An Atlantic County jury returned its verdict Tuesday against Vargas convicting him on eight counts overall. He faces a lengthy prison term when he's sentenced later this year.

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Vargas, a Somers Point resident, was allegedly traveling at a high-speed (possibly as high as 120 mph) on Shore Road in Somers Point when he crashed his car into a telephone pole and sent a fire hydrant flying before the vehicle finally stopped at the door of Gregory's.

The crash killed Vargas’ passenger, 33-year-old Kevin Botta of Somers Point, while the catapulting fire hydrant seriously injured Joseph Higbee of Northfield, N.J. who was at the bar to celebrate his birthday.

Prosecutors have said Vargas' license was suspended and he was speeding and driving drunk (prosecutors argued his blood alcohol content was 0.14 percent) when the January 2011 crash occurred in Somers Point.

Vargas was also injured in the wreck.

He faces 10 to 30 years in prison and $200,000 in fines for the first-degree offenses.

 


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