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Eight Dead at the Site of an Illegal Road Race

A car crashed into a group of spectators watching an illegal street race Saturday, killing eight and leavinf five hospitalized, reported the New York Times.
At 3 a.m. a car not involved in the race colliding with the crowd of people on Route 210, striking at least 14 people, said Cpl. Clinton Copeland, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County Police Department. Investigators believed that the racers were “burning out,? revving car engines and spinning tires in preparation for the race, possibly causing smoke and debris to hinder visibility on the road, said Copeland.
Seven people were pronounced dead at the scene, while an eighth died at the hospital. The driver of the white Ford Crown Victoria who had hit the spectators walked away from the crash, while the passenger of the car was taken to the hospital.
No charges have been filed against the driver, whom the police did not identify. It is unknown if the driver was under the influence of any alcohol or drugs. An investigation is still underway.
People who live near the crash site in this bedroom community of Washington say that illegal racing is nearly a weekly occurrence here, and that drivers even transport their vehicles to this stretch of road on flatbed trucks.
Robert Stafford, 60, and his wife, Glenna, 59, who live a few hundred yards from where the accident occurred, said they had been hearing the squealing tires from drag races for about 25 years, since the highway was expanded to four lanes and divided by a wide grassy median.
Police said that street races are not uncommon on the stretch of road, but that most occur in the summer and involve motorcycles, reported the Star Tribune.
About 50 people were watching the race Saturday morning. One of the spectators, Crystal Gaines, 27, of Indian Head, said she saw the Crown Victoria approach without its lights on. She was able to pull her daughter out of the way, but her 61-year-old father did not make it and was killed in the crash. Police could not confirm whether the car that struck the crowd had its lights on.
The victims' ages ranged from their 20s to 60s, police said. Copeland was surprised by the age of the spectators because these events were often attended by the young.
“This is a tragedy of monumental proportions,? Copeland said, “to have eight people lose their lives for the thrill of a road race," quoted the New York Times.
The residents expressed sorrow, but said the accident was not a surprise. “You see the skid marks in the morning,? Glenna Stafford said. “It had to happen sooner or later.?