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SELMER, Tenn. (AP) — Three more people have died after a drag-racing car lost control and careened into a crowd of spectators, raising the death toll to seven, state officials said Sunday.
The crash occurred Saturday night during an "exhibition burnout" — when a driver spins his tires to make them heat up and smoke — at the Cars for Kids charity event in Selmer, located about 80 miles east of Memphis.

Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Browning said seven people were dead, including a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old. At least eight people were taken to three hospitals, and several others had minor injuries, he said.

The identities of the victims and the driver were not immediately known.

Amateur video of the crash, broadcast by WMC-TV in Memphis, shows the car rev its engine loudly and then speed down a highway lined with spectators on both sides. After a few hundred feet, the smoking car skids off the road.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Saturday | Tenn | Pro | Selmer | AMS
There was a guard rail along at least part of the highway, but state officials could not immediately say if the spectators were standing behind the rail where the crash occurred.

Witness Scott Henley said the vehicle started burning off its tires, then began to fishtail and slammed into a utility pole before spinning around into the audience. Another witness, Sean Hood, said the car was speeding when it hit the crowd.

"I saw body parts flying everywhere," Hood said.

Selmer Police Chief Neal Burks said, "bodies were flying into the air when it happened."

Browning said the vehicle was a drag-racing car, but he did not have more details about it.

Matthew Brammer, administrator of AMS Pro Modified Series, which sanctions drag races, said late Saturday that the car involved has been driven by drag racer Troy Critchley, of Wylie, Texas, but he did not know if Critchley was driving when the car struck the crowd.

The AMS Pro Modified Series later issued a news release that said the driver was a veteran of more than 20 years in drag racing and had to be taken to the emergency room.

The release said the driver was performing a burnout when road conditions caused the car to lose control, striking the pole and then spinning into the crowd.

"The race team is in shock and deeply saddened by this unexpected event. Their hearts and prayers are with the injured people and their families," the release said.

Sheriff's officials and police began to close the festival shortly after the crash. About 40,000 to 60,000 people were expected to attend the weekend event. A makeshift memorial appeared early Sunday as mourners placed small votive candles at the crash site.

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 website.

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 website.

Price could not be reached for comment Saturday night.


20 year AMS Pro Mod verteran, not good
 
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