VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — “I will never look at that utility pole the same way again,” said Peabody’s owner Brandon Ramsey, 

“I have never been so thankful for a piece of city property than I am for that thing right there,” he added, pointing to the utility pole that holds up the traffic lights at the intersection of Pacific Avenue and 21st Street. 

By looking at the mangled car that crashed into the utility pole and caught fire Friday night, it’s hard to believe people on the ground weren’t killed. The driver died in the crash.

Ramsey remembers Friday night.

“That car was barreling down 21st Street, and it clipped the car along the way, and came in sideways and hit this pole, and that’s what saved everyone down 21st Street,” Ramsey said. 

Virginia State Police said 28-year-old Andy Curry‘s Toyota Sedan was paced at faster than 100 mph on Interstate 264 before entering the resort strip at Parks Avenue. 

“I heard a loud pop because he had hit something on 21st Street,” Ramsey said.  

Ramey was on the sidewalk at the time outside Peabody’s and a group had just been admitted to one of the most popular night life locations at the Oceanfront.

“I yelled for people to get out of the way, and at that point, he was coming through sideways,” Ramsey said, referring to Curry’s car.  

Ramsey thinks of the utility pole as a lifesaver hard at work Friday night.

“If that car had been three feet farther to the right, it would have wiped out everything along this sidewalk, and caused a lot more damage to this building,” he said. 

Next door at The Bunker BrewPub, it was a busy night. A group of customers had just gone back inside the Bunker 10 seconds before everything went crazy.

“With the amount of debris that came from that car, anything could have happened. They could have been hit by anything, no telling what could have happened,” Ramsey said. 

Two people were struck by flying debris; one was taken to the hospital, the other refused treatment, 

“All I can say is I love this pole. It saved my life, and it saved some others. I can’t tell you what could have happened and I’m thankful,” Ramsey said.

This event basically shut down the resort strip’s main entrance for hours.

Just in from Ohio, Mike Mautz was checking into the Atrium Resort Hotel. Due to standing traffic from the crash, his Lyft driver dropped him off on Parks Avenue, five blocks from the hotel.

“It was 12:30 in the morning, dragging three suitcases with my wife and I. This is not what we expected,” Mautz said. 

The car caught fire and police say Curry died on impact.

Not knowing what would happen next, Ramsey, with safety in mind, ordered everyone out of Peabody’s.

“I chose to evacuate [Peabody’s] within 30 seconds,” Ramsey told us. 

People left, and some did not clear their tabs.

“I was left holding the bag on some of that. People just left. We had to do what was most important, which is the safety of the people and that’s what we did.” 

Ramsey doesn’t know how much Friday night cost him, but quite frankly, he also says he doesn’t care. Safety first — always. That’s how you stay in business for 26 years, he said.