Miami Beach

Wild South Beach driver knocks over light pole, smashes into car before skidding away

Police investigating hit-and-run in South Beach

The owner of a nearby hotel captured the crash, which took out a light pole, from his window on his handheld camera and outdoor security cameras. The fracas happened early Saturday near Ocean Drive.
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The owner of a nearby hotel captured the crash, which took out a light pole, from his window on his handheld camera and outdoor security cameras. The fracas happened early Saturday near Ocean Drive.

People grinding on police vehicles. A woman twerking on the roof of a car driving on the MacArthur Causeway. People stampeding from Ocean Drive. Revelers beating up an Uber driver.

These are a few of the most-publicized scenes from Spring Break 2017 in South Beach. And to be fair, a group of college students did stay late on the beach to pick up garbage from the sand. But March ain’t over yet, as a wildly errant driver early Saturday showed.

Before dawn Saturday, shortly after closing time at 5 a.m., two men had an argument on Ninth Street between Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. The driver of a white BMW, which police said was a rental car, then backed up into a black Lexus before skidding forward and smashing into a light pole, knocking it over. Both cars made u-turns, and the BMW rear-ended that same Lexus before driving away in the opposite direction.

The BMW stops at Ocean Court, the alley between Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive, and reverses into the alley and cuts the lights. At one point, a Beach police car drives by without noticing the BMW in the dark alley.

The crash of the light pole woke up Mitch Novick, owner of the adjacent Sherbrooke Hotel and a frequent documenter of fights and general drunken debauchery in the heart of the Beach’s entertainment district. He grabbed his camera and pointed it out the window, capturing the last of the incident. Security cameras at the front and back of the Sherbrooke caught the whole scene.

“I’m glad it appeared nobody was seriously hurt,” he told the Miami Herald. “Very easily, many people could’ve been gravely hurt.”

He notified police. He later stitched together some of the footage and posted to his Facebook page called the South Beach Sludge Report.

On Tuesday, Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates told the Miami Herald the department is making progress on the hit-and-run investigation.

“We have seized the rental car in question and hope to identify the driver soon,” Oates said, adding that Spring Break has been generally calm so far. “We have had thousands of visitors from around the world enjoying Miami Beach and Ocean Drive. We will be adding more security in the vicinity of Ninth Street and Ocean Drive for the remainder of Spring Break. As always, we appreciate and rely on our residents and businesses to be our eyes and ears, as our officers cannot be everywhere at all times.”

According to City Hall, the light fixture was installed only a few weeks ago as part of larger plan to temper the party atmosphere and reduce crime. The light pole cost $5,000 to install. It would cost about half of that to repair, if a whole new replacement isn’t needed.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech

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