Deadly Crash at South Jersey Bar Sends Hydrant Flying

A man out to celebrate his birthday was hit by a dislodged fire hydrant after car goes out of control killing the passenger

A car crashed into a South Jersey bar Thursday morning, leaving one man dead, two others seriously injured -- including a man celebrating his birthday -- and thousands in the area without power for a few hours.

The accident happened at Gregory’s Bar, along the 900 block of Shore Road in Somers Point, N.J. around 1 a.m. 

Antonio Vargas, 21, of Somers Point was allegedly driving at a high speed south on Shore Road when he crashed his vehicle, investigators said.

"All I heard was the craziest boom I’ve ever heard," said witness Kelly Dugan. "Like I can still hear it."

Investigators believe alcohol was involved in the crash that left passenger, 33-year-old Kevin Botta of Somers Point, dead.

Botta died instantly from multiple traumatic injuries including injuries to the head and facial fractures, the medical examiner said.

Vargas was flown by helicopter to the Harrah’s Regional Trauma Center at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center where he is in critical condition.

The crash also sent a fire hydrant flying through the air, hitting 26-year-old Joseph Higbee of Northfield who was standing outside of the bar. He was at the bar to celebrate his birthday.

"The fire hydrant actually went over close to a city block," said Fire Chief Michael Sweeney.

Higbee was flown to ACRMC for treatment of life-threatening pelvic injuries.

The car knocked into a nearby power pole and ended up inside the door of the bar. The crash ended up knocking out the electricity for over 2000 people in the area. The power was restored around 4:30 a.m.

"Misspent death like this is just a tragedy," said bar owner Gregory Gregory. "And it hurts me deep."

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