By WILL YORK
Associated Press Writer
SELMER, Tenn. (AP) - Cars for Kids has staged a charity car show for 18 years in this small town, and the drivers always do crowd-pleasing burnouts - spinning the tires to make them heat up and smoke - at the end of the parade.
There had never been an accident until this weekend, when pro drag racer Troy Warren Critchley lost control of his car and six people lost their lives.
The six victims were in their teens and early 20s, Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Browning said. Saturday's wreck injured at least 20 others, including a 5-year-old boy, who were taken to hospitals in Tennessee and Mississippi.
The Highway Patrol scheduled a news conference for Monday to talk about the accident investigation.
Witnesses questioned the decision Sunday to let the driver speed down a highway with no guard rails, lined on both sides by hundreds of spectators.
"It ain't really safe to do anything with drag cars on a city street," said 19-year-old Garett Moore, who said he was about 15 feet away from the wreck, but was uninjured. "They shouldn't have done it."
Amateur video of the crash, broadcast on WMC-TV in Memphis, showed the car's engine revving loudly before the vehicle sped down the highway. After a few hundred feet, the smoking car skidded off the road and into the crowd.
Critchley, an Australian drag racer now based in Wylie, Texas, suffered minor injuries and was taken by car to a hospital, authorities said. No criminal charges have been filed against Critchley, Browning said.
There was a short guard rail along part of the highway, but not along the stretch where the crash occurred.
Nick Staples, who was at the event with his wife and three children, said he was standing 20 feet from where the car plowed into the audience.
"There should have been guard rails," Staples said. "But even if there had been, it wouldn't have mattered."
Mourners placed small votive candles, flowers, teddy bears and a ceramic angel at the crash site, located along state Highway 64 near the intersection with Highway 45.
The Highway Patrol said Raven Griswell, 15, of Finger, and Sean Michael Driskill, 22, of Adamsville, died at the scene. Four others - Brook L. Pope, 20, of Selmer; Scarlett Replogle, 15, of Selmer; Kimberly A. Barfield, 17, of Adamsville; and Nicole Griswell, 19, of Selmer, died in hospitals.
Authorities closed the festival after the crash.
Cars for Kids holds several events throughout the nation and raises close to $200,000 annually for charities that help children in need, according to its Web site.
The charity was formed in 1990, two years after founder Larry Price's son, Chad, suffered a severe head injury in a bicycle accident. Price promised that if his son was saved from lifelong injuries, he would spend the rest of his life raising funds for disabled children, according to the Web site.
Price said he hoped to keep the charity going, but he wouldn't do any more burnouts on public streets.
Associated Press writer Woody Baird contributed to this report. (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Those killed in the wreck
- Raven Griswell, 15, Finger, died at the scene
- Nicole Griswell, 19, Selmer, died at Memphis Medical Center
- Sean Michael Driskill, 22, Adamsville, died at scene
- Brook L. Pope, 20, Selmer, died at McNairy Regional Medical
- Scarlett Replogle, 15, Selmer, died at McNairy Regional Medical
- Kimberly A. Barfield, 17, Adamsville, died at Jackson General
Those injured in the wreck and treated in hospitals:
- Jason Mullins, 17, Stantonville
- Jeannie Townsend, 27, Selmer
- Rodger Pitchford, 18, Bethel Springs
- Ginny B. King, 15, Selmer
- Selina Kennedy, 15, Selmer
- Shane Smith, 19, Selmer
- Brenda F. Taylor, 46, Selmer
- Aeriel K. Hickman, 15, Selmer
- Christopher Mettlen, 19, Selmer
- Codye J. Tomaszewski, 20, Selmer
- Michael Bishop, 20, Selmer
Memphis Medical Center (no ages or hometowns given)
- Thomas Bernard
- Sheila Sisk
- Amy Driskill
Magnolia Hospital, Corinth, Miss. (no ages or hometowns given)
- Phillip Spence
- Rouge-Jet Cloud
- Michael Smith, 43, Selmer
- Cindy Stevens, 17, Selmer
- Tiffany Stone, (no age given), Michie
- Brandon Vanhoose, 5, Selmer