August 21, 2012
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is continuing its investigation after a race car drove into the pit area during Sunday’s third annual Battle of the Badges race at the Pepsi Grandstand on the Missouri State Fairgrounds.
According to reports, at 9 p.m. driver Tyson Russell, 25, of Crocker, came around curve four when a multiple vehicle crash made him lose control of his car, drive over a guardrail, through a fence and into the pit, hitting five spectators.
Mark C. Quisenberry, 57, of Columbia, and Lela A. Wood, 34, of California, Mo., were both taken to University Hospital in Columbia with serious injuries. A third victim, Jessalin A. Degonia, 27, of California, Mo., was transported by ambulance to Bothwell Regional Health Center, then taken to University Hospital.
Two others, Barry L. Smith, 46, of Florence, and Archie L. Simpson, 67, of Columbia, sustained minor injuries and were treated at the scene. Previous reports indicated both were from Columbia.
EMS and law enforcement personnel were already on the scene Sunday as part of the usual safety requirements for grandstand events, said Sgt. Collin Stosberg, public information officer for MSHP Troop A.
“Without those first responders there, it could have been a lot worse,” Stosberg said Monday. “They were able to get the care they needed, immediately, and that made a huge difference. We know there’s an inherent risk associated with racing and it’s likely to have crashes; this was truly an unfortunate circumstance.”
The Battle of the Badges race, which raises money for the Torch Run and Special Olympics, was part of the fair’s Law Enforcement Day, and a crowd of about 3,500 people was at the grandstand at the time of the crash. Stosberg said the race drivers were all law enforcement officials — and reports that Russell was a MSHP trooper were untrue — but each was driving a personal vehicle and was off-duty at the time. The Associated Press reported that Crocker works for the St. Robert Police Department in Pulaski County.
“They were representing their individual law enforcement agencies but they were using privately owned vehicles,” Stosberg said.
The MSHP major crash investigation team is continuing work on the final report, but it could take up to 60 days to complete, Stosberg added. State Fair Director of Marketing Tammie Nichols said administration officials were waiting on the final report to comment.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of those injured,” she said. “But right now we’re still waiting on information to come in.”
Nichols said she couldn’t comment on the condition of the race track or if the fair officials would look into creating more safety barriers. A press conference originally scheduled for Wednesday for a post-fair wrap-up has been postponed until further notice.
Tickets for the auto races will be refunded. For more information, go to mostatefair.com/refund-procedure.