Eight people watching drag race killed in Maryland

Associated Press
Published February 17, 2008

ACCOKEEK, Md. - A car plowed into a group of street-racing fans obscured by a cloud of tire smoke on a highway Saturday, killing eight people and scattering bodies in the early morning darkness.

At least five were injured in the wreck along a flat, isolated stretch of highway about 20 miles south of Washington known for illegal races.

Witnesses said about 50 people were gathered before dawn along Route 210 as two cars spun their wheels, kicked up smoke and sped off, said Prince George's County police Cpl. Clinton Copeland.

Fans had spilled onto the smoky, dark roadway to watch the cars drive away when a white Ford Crown Victoria unexpectedly came up from behind and smashed into them between 2:30 and 3 a.m.

"There were just bodies everywhere; it was horrible," said Crystal Gaines, 27, of Indian Head, whose father was killed.

Police interviewed the unidentified Crown Victoria driver, but no charges were pending, Copeland said. Police were looking for the racing drivers.

The smoke and the darkness likely meant the driver could not see the crowd, police said. A semitrailer truck that came by shortly afterward may also have struck someone on the roadside, according to investigators.

One of the victims became lodged inside the Crown Victoria, which had a crumpled hood and a partially collapsed roof.

"It's probably one of the worst scenes I've seen," Copeland said. "This is a situation that could have been avoided, and it's a very tragic situation."

Information from the New York Times was used in this report.