PALM BEACH POST

Crash kills man, destroys bar

By Larry Hobbs, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

BELLE GLADE -- A Canal Point man died Monday and a local nightclub burned to the ground following a fiery predawn crash involving a semi-trailer rig and a pickup truck at the corner of State Road 715 and Northwest Avenue L.

The 52-year-old motorist who died was driving east on Northwest Avenue L when he apparently drove through a red light into the path of the oncoming semi, which was northbound on SR 715, said Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Pembrook Burrows. The semi then crashed into the front of Club 21, 1541 N.W. Ave. L, plowing the pickup beneath it and killing the driver. The club was unoccupied at the time.

The semi's driver, Alfredo Marcia, 39, of Miami, was treated for injuries at Glades General Hospital in Belle Glade, Burrows said.

The explosion of fuel from the vehicles set the Club 21 building on fire, Belle Glade Fire Department Lt. Devon Edwards said. The fire department was called at 5:24 a.m. and was on scene by 5:30 a.m., Edwards said.

Flames fed off of the interior's tables, chairs and rafters and spread quickly. Firefighters from five engines battled the blazes shooting as high as 20 feet for more than 90 minutes before bringing it under control, he said.

"Once it got up in the attic space, it started venting through the roof and it just took off," Edwards said. "There wasn't a whole lot we could do about it except control it and get it out."

The crash also toppled an electricity pole, knocking out power near the intersection for several hours, Belle Glade Fire Chief Steve Rice said.

The FHP would not release the dead man's name because his family had not been reached, Burrows said. Witnesses told investigators he ran the red light at the intersection, he said.

Club 21 has been in operation for many years under various names, including Banyan Tree Lounge and Golden Glades Liquors.