Virginia Beach Fishing Pier crash shocks community, mars iconic public landmark – The Virginian-Pilot

VIRGINIA BEACH — Because the solar rose over the ocean Saturday morning, the surprising occurred on the Virginia Seashore Fishing Pier.

Somebody drove an SUV by two units of metallic gates, down 650 ft of picket pier, by the deck railing, and off the sting of the construction into the frigid water under.

Rescue and restoration crews have been unable to retrieve both the car or occupant as harmful present situations stalled efforts. Police haven’t recognized the driving force, although they’ve mentioned they’re wanting into similarities to a reported lacking man.

Video that captured the car going off the enduring public landmark was extensively shared on-line, fueling public curiosity. On Thursday afternoon, individuals strolling by the pier stopped to have a look at a makeshift memorial of posters, stuffed animals and flowers positioned alongside the Boardwalk rail.

Days after the incident, with few concrete solutions about what occurred and why, the group remains to be reeling.

“Everyone’s fighting it as a result of we’re all shocked,” mentioned Dee Nachnani, president of the Atlantic Avenue Affiliation, a group group within the resort space. “It’s one thing so uncommon that it’s unprecedented.”

The group held its quarterly assembly this week and mentioned the pier crash.

The 74-year-old picket fishing pier sits between 14th and fifteenth streets and runs about 650 ft over the ocean. It’s well known as a logo of the Virginia Seashore Oceanfront and is regularly featured within the metropolis’s promotional supplies.

Breathtaking sunrises over the pier are sometimes captured by each skilled and novice photographers. Thought of a preferred vacation spot for each locals and vacationers, the fishing pier is seen from all factors on the Boardwalk. However this week, sheets of wooden blocked entry to the fishing finish of the pier the place a wall was broken. Yellow police tape is strewn throughout the world.

A makeshift memorial is set up at the front of the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier. The pier closed after an vehicle crashed off the end on Saturday at Virginia Beach Oceanfront in Virginia Beach, Va., Feb. 1, 2024. (Peter Casey / For The Virginian-Pilot)
A makeshift memorial is about up on the entrance of the Virginia Seashore Fishing Pier on Thursday, Feb. 1 2024. (Peter Casey / For The Virginian-Pilot)

“It’s been a enjoyable place for therefore a few years,” mentioned Betty Lachman-Tucker, who was additionally surprised by the crash. “It’s only a tragedy for everyone.”

The Lachman household, together with the Murdens and the Bonneys constructed the pier. It opened in 1950, and was initially 1,000 ft lengthy.

John Zirkle, president of the Virginia Seashore Lodge Affiliation, heard the information Saturday morning.

“Who would have thought one thing like that might occur?” he mentioned.

It’s a chorus heard all through the group, particularly as a result of it occurred in such a well known, acquainted location.

A youngster who was working on the Boardwalk and had stopped to take a video of the dawn recorded the incident on her cellular phone digital camera.

Bruce Whitfield, supervisor of the Pier Present Store, watched the video, which exhibits the automobile driving down the pier and off of the top of it.

“I used to be shocked as a result of it appeared like they slowed down,” Whitfield mentioned. “It received you fascinated about perhaps chilly ft, second ideas.”

The pier and the companies that decision it residence have usually embodied a optimistic vibe by the years. It’s the place households take pleasure in casting a line into the ocean, shopping kitschy souvenirs within the present store and celebrating particular events at Ocean Eddie’s restaurant. In the course of the vacation season, the pier is a focus the place a show of Santa’s sleigh and reindeer seemingly mid-air is illuminated.

Lachman-Tucker’s household continues to personal and function Ocean Eddie’s. On Saturday morning, the cooks arrived just a few minutes after the automobile crash.

“I used to be simply so glad our workers weren’t behind that second gate,” she mentioned.

However this isn’t the primary time the pier has been forged into the limelight underneath unlucky circumstances.

Hurricane after hurricane has battered it, knocking a whole lot of ft of splintered timber into the ocean. The homeowners rebuilt sections solely to see the following huge storm injury it once more.

In 1999, after a Coast Guard helicopter rescued a sailor in misery, robust winds and churning waves tossed his deserted sailboat, The Windermere, into the pier. Pounding surf practically buried the 37-foot craft within the sand and induced 1000’s of {dollars} in injury to the pier pilings and deck railings.

“The mast got here up by the pier between the ticket sales space and the deal with store at the moment,” mentioned Lachman-Tucker.

Images: Virginia Seashore Fishing Pier by the years

Lately, the pier was eyed for redevelopment as the unique homeowners sought to promote it. A number of teams tossed round concepts that included changing it with a concrete construction, including an enormous Ferris wheel and a brand new resort.

In 2022, the Sibony household, who additionally personal a sequence of Sunsations present retailers on Atlantic Avenue, purchased the pier. The brand new homeowners lease house to the prevailing companies, which stay open. They’re assessing the injury and plan to make repairs in order that the fishing space can open within the spring.

And whereas there are nonetheless many unanswered questions, the group hopes to be on the mend quickly, too.

“Our hearts exit to the household,” mentioned Nachnani. “It’s simply really unhappy.”

Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125, stacy.parker@pilotonline.com

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