KERRVILLE, Texas — What was supposed to be a family-friendly day of drag racing at Kerrville-Kerr County Airport turned horribly wrong when an out-of-control dragster struck at least 10 people, killing two children.
The Kerrville Police Department said a six-year-old boy died at the scene, while an eight-year-old died at Peterson Regional Medical Center. Kerrville Police said five others were seriously injured, with four being taken by helicopters to trauma units in San Antonio and Austin.
A family member confirmed that his six-year-old nephew was one of the children killed. He also said that the boy's parents were two of the four taken by helicopter to hospitals.
Kerrville Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jonathan Lamb said the most seriously injured were:
A 26-year-old woman was taken to San Antonio's University Medical Center in San Antonio in critical condition, but her condition was non life threatening.
A 26 year old male was taken to Dell Seaton Medical Center in Austin and is in unknown condition.
A 46 year old female was also taken to University Medical Center in San Antonio and is in critical condition.
The 34-year-old male driver was taken to San Antonio Medical Center and is listed in stable condition.
Two people were treated and released at the scene, and two children, a four-year-old male and a three-month-old female child, were taken to Peterson Regional Medical Center by ambulance for precautionary evaluations.
The event, dubbed Race Wars 2, drew as many as 3,000 people to see 1/8-mile racing down an auxiliary runway at the airport. Kerrville Police said there were multiple injuries when a Ford Mustang lost control at the finish line, veered across an un-barricaded section of the runway, and hit a group of people. The crash happened about 3:30 p.m.
Kerrville Police Chief Chris McCall said the department was handling the investigation.
One eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said she was there to render aid, along with two women who she said were nurses. She said those who were injured were from the San Antonio area.
"There was at least 15 people who were there," said the woman, who was with a group of semi-truck drivers who were racing in the event. "We started CPR on the little boy."
Peterson Regional Medical Center sent out a plea for nurses and other medical professionals to assist for a "mass casualty event."
Kerrville Mayor Bill Blackburn offered prayers and condolences to the families.
"This is a sad day," said Blackburn, who did not attend the event. "I ask for prayers for the families of those injured."
The event is likely to be the worst race track incident in Texas this year, if not the nation. At a dirt track near El Paso, one person was killed, and seven injured earlier this year. A teenage driver was killed after a crash at a track in Hunt County over the summer.
The event had beefed up safety procedures for this second race, installing water-filled barriers, also known as Jersey Barriers, used in road construction — similar to concrete K-rails. However, those barriers stopped at the finish line, and there was no barrier between fans and cars approaching their top speeds before shutting down. In some cases, racers were going more than 100 MPH at the finish line.
With the barriers in place, the crowds could get within about 15 feet of the track, and organizers repeatedly reminded them to stay on the grass portion of the runway.
The event is the brainchild of a Kerrville company called Flyin' Diesel Performance, which is owned by Kerrville's Ross Dunagan. Before entering the grounds, every spectator had to sign a release of liability form that promised not to sue the producers.
The event was attended by several community leaders including Kerrville City Councilwomen Judy Eychner and Brenda Hughes. Kerr County Pct. 1 Commissioner Harley David Belew was also there and could be seen near the scene of the crash talking with and consoling people. The Ranch Radio Group, which employs Belew, was one of the major sponsors of the race.
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