Jan. 30 – It has been more than two days since a car went off the end of the fishing pier in Virginia Beach and it remains underwater with its driver.
Ocean currents are too strong and the water visibility is too poor for recovery divers to recover the vehicle which sits in roughly 17 feet of water.
“Nobody wants to bring resolution to this more than we do,” Sgt. Brian Ricardo with VBPD Special Operations, told the media Monday afternoon. “We are as frustrated as everyone else that we can’t get in the water, and we can’t do something to get this moving forward.”
Peter Dujardin, Stacy Parker, The Virginian-Pilot
Jan. 27 – A vehicle crashed through the end of the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier on Saturday morning, with the driver presumed dead.
The first call came in at 6:52 a.m. for a car that went through the end of the wooden pier off 15th Street at the Oceanfront, police said.
“From what we have, the vehicle went on the pier, drove all the way off the edge of the pier and went into the water,” said Virginia Beach police spokesman Jude Brenya. “So it’s somewhere at the end of the pier right now.”
Kaylynn Crawford, 16, and a friend were running north on the Boardwalk when they stopped to take a video of the sunrise next to the pier around 6:50 a.m. Just before Crawford started to record, she heard a big crash on the pier, apparently from the vehicle crashing through an access gate at the pier’s entrance.
A video Crawford’s father posted on Facebook shows the car driving with lights on toward the end of the pier as the sky lightens and a flock of seabirds fly by in the fog.
“Is he gonna drive off the edge?” Crawford asks incredulously.
“Oh my God!” her friend says.
“No (expletive) way,” Crawford says, just before the car plunges over the edge and the girls gasp. “Dude, no.”
Crawford, a Virginia Beach resident, said in an interview that she initially heard a loud crash — of what she thought sounded like a car backing into the pier. Then she heard the car crash through a second gate. She hit record on her phone.
“Once they sped up, I was like, ‘Oh no, he’s going to drive off the pier.’ ”
The vehicle’s brake lights appear to be flickering on and off as the car heads down the pier, and the car appears to slow slightly just before going over the edge, Crawford noted. She immediately called 911, saying police arrived quickly.
Several online references say the wooded fishing pier is 1,000 feet long.
Brenya said police don’t know how many occupants were in the car, and he did not have the vehicle’s make or model to release. The vehicle “is at the bottom of the ocean,” Brenya said, and cannot be seen from the water surface.
While no body had been recovered as of 4 p.m. Saturday, he said Virginia Beach Police are working on the presumption that there’s a deceased person in the car.
“But we need to recover the vehicle to confirm that,” Brenya said.
Police have not released any information on who they believe was in the car or why investigators believe the driver drove off the pier.
Divers were not sent to look inside the car, Brenya said, but other technology has been used. He said he didn’t know how deep the water is in that area.
“We are still trying to collect the right assets to be able to recover the vehicle,” he said. “And it seems like we’re gonna have to rely on private companies. We might actually be recovering the vehicle either later (Saturday) or at day break.”
With the weather patterns and equipment available, Brenya said, the retrieval will most likely happen Sunday.
Debbie Lou Hague, owner of the pier restaurant Ocean Eddie’s, went to the scene early Saturday morning.
“Somebody drove their car through all of our gates,” said Hague.
Large metal gates block the entrance to the pier this time of year because it is closed, and there’s another gate that can be opened for access to the restaurant, according to Hague.
“That’s a heavy gate,” she said. “It’s hard to move for me when I go in the morning.”
After breaking through the first set of barriers, the driver went to the right of a turnstile gate just beyond Ocean Eddie’s, where fishermen buy tickets to access the pier.
“It almost leads me to believe they knew the area,” Hague said.
Ocean Eddie’s cooks arrived a few minutes after the driver went over the end of the pier. The restaurant usually serves breakfast.
“Not today,” Hague said.