WreckageSelmer Tennessee was the site of tragedy this weekend. During a “burn out” exhibition, the driver of an AMS Pro Modified race car lost control and went spinning into the crowd.

Selmer police chief, Neal Burks, describing the scene to an AP correspondent said, “Bodies were flying into the air.”

The event, sanctioned by the AMS Pro Modified Series, was one of many such events sponsored by Cars for Kids. This charitable organization raises money nationwide to help children with disabilities.

A spokesperson for the AMS Pro Modified Series said the driver, Troy Warren Critchley, was a drag racing veteran of more than 20 years. AMS further explained that pavement conditions at the site deteriorated in an unpredictable manner, causing the car to spin out of control.

This report seems to conflict with that of the Tennessee Highway patrol whose spokesperson, Mike Browning said, “one of the cars malfunctioned.”

The investigation is ongoing.

Of hundreds of spectators lined up to watch, seven have been confirmed killed and about 20 reported injuries. Four of the dead were teenagers. Two of those were sisters.

Larry Price, founder of Cars for Kids, said that they’d staged this exhibition for 18 years and that there had never once been an accident. At the end of the parade, each driver does a burn out. Price said most drivers burn the tires for about 50 feet, but Critchley went way beyond that before losing control, leading this observer to wonder if there was in fact a throttle malfunction.

The tiny town of Selmer is reported to be numb with shock and loss.

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