Victims Involved in Crash at NJ Bar Identified

Updated at 11:54 AM today By CATHY GANDOLFO SOMERS POINT, N.J. – January 6, 2011 (WPVI) — One person is dead and two others are in serious condition after a speeding car crashed into a New Jersey bar early Thursday morning. About 100 people were inside Gregory’s on the 800 block of Shore Road in Somers Point, New Jersey when a speeding car rammed the place at about 1 a.m. Investigators say the car, driven by Antonio Vargas, 21, of Somers Point, was allegedly traveling at a high rate of speed south on Shore Road when it crashed. Vargas was flown to Atlantic City Medical Center, City Campus, for treatment of life-threatening injuries. Vargas’ passenger, Kevin Botta, 33, of Somers Point, was pronounced dead at the scene. A pedestrian, Joseph Higbee, 26, of Northfield, who was standing outside of the bar, was struck by a fire hydrant that flew some 30 feet after being hit by the out-of-control car. Higbee was flown to Atlantic City Medical Center, City Campus, for treatment of life-threatening injuries. John Phister is a tow truck operator who arrived at the scene to find he knew two of the injured people. “It’s unfortunate. I do tow accidents and it doesn’t really hit you until it’s someone close to you,” Phister said. Gregory Gregory is the long-time owner of the bar, which has been in Somers Point since 1946. “Of all the times this place has been here, this is one of the saddest times we’ve ever had. A loss of life is a shame at any time,” Gregory said. An autopsy on Botta is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. (Copyright ©2011 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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