What should have been a fun-filled weekend turned into one of heartbreak. It's still hard to wrap our heads around what happened on Saturday at Kerrville-Kerr County Airport. There are many unanswered questions about the fatal race car crash that killed two young boys and left four critically injured people. We will tackle some of those questions on The Lead Live at 9 a.m. this morning. We'll be joined by Jonathan Lusher, a security and event expert, who will discuss the ins and outs of events like Race Wars 2.
SOME OTHER TOP ITEMS
- The Kerr County Commissioner's Court will meet at 9 a.m. this morning. It will be noteworthy to see how the commissioners and Judge Rob Kelly handle the Race Wars 2 issue, considering they approved it on Sept. 13.
- The Kerrville City Council will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and we can expect some acknowledgment of the events at the airport. We don't expect much because this could be an area of litigation for the city and the county.
- We should see another round of updates today from the Kerrville Police Department, which is the lead investigative unit on the case.
- KSAT, an ABC News affiliate, showed video from the crash the showed the car responsible for the incident seemed to have a problem before the finish line.
Links to our previous stories from the weekend
- Tony Gallucci's photos: https://kerrcountylead.com/1580785545605815
- Our story outlining some of the problems with the event: https://kerrcountylead.com/424931079147222
BUT WAIT, WASN'T THERE A RELEASE OF LIABILITY?
Yes, there was. That will be one of the areas we discuss with Jonathan Lusher during The Lead Live. As spectators entered the airport, they were asked to promise not to sue if there was an incident.
In a Facebook comment, Race Wars 2 promoter Ross Dunagan said spectators would be 50-feet from the edge of the track at the Kerrville-Kerr County Airport for the Oct. 23 races.
The assurances, however, appear contrary to what happened at drag races, where two children died when a driver lost control of his car, slamming into spectators. Four others, including the 34-year-old driver, were critically injured and taken to San Antonio and Austin trauma hospitals.
On Oct. 21, Reynaldo Salazar posted on Flyin' Diesel Performance's Facebook page. "How far are the spectators going to be from the race track?"
Dunagan, who owns Flyin' Diesel Performance, said: "50-feet back."
However, spectators were far closer than 50-feet. Exactly how far away fans were when a driver lost control is still being investigated. In photos shared by photographer Tony Gallucci, the driver of the Ford Mustang lost control of the car, veered across the track as he crossed the finish line and into the spectators. The car, a 1980s model Mustang, is approximately 15-feet long. Gallucci's photos show spectators within two car lengths — 30 feet — of the edge of the track.
During the day of racing, which had gone chiefly without problems, there were reminders from the public address announcer to stay back from the barriers and on the grass area, but the crowds stretched beyond the finish line. Many of those spectators crept closer and closer.
In motorsports, keeping spectators separated from the competition is part of the challenge for any promoter. In another Facebook video, Dunagan talks about filling the barriers with water (courtesy of the city of Kerrville) to protect the fans. Each section of the barrier weighs more than 1,000 pounds when filled with water or sand.
HERE'S WHAT WE SAID ON SEPT. 14
After the commissioner's court unanimously approved the Race Wars event, we discussed our safety concerns during the Sept. 14 episode of The Lead Live. While the event organizers had a plan for Jersey barriers — rigid plastic filled with water — we argued for concrete K-rails. There will be plenty of debate about how it turned out, but here are our concerns.
KERRVILLE MOUNTAIN BIKE FESTIVAL
As Corbin Gudgell, 15, crossed the finish line of the Kerrville Mountain Bike Festival, he let out a smile — victory. He had just won the 22-mile Category 2 race at Kerrville Schreiner Park.
Gudgell, who hails from Lake City, was one of many winners on the day.
However, the real winner may be Kerrville, with another festival to add to its growing endurance event collection to test Texas competitors.
"We want to show off our community and this beautiful park," said Lisa Nye-Salladin, who, along with her husband, Adam, and friend David Appleton, put together the event.
Previously, the race was called the Camp Eagle Classic, and it has been around in some form since 1998, but this was the first one held in Kerrville. Sunday's final day attracted more than 100 riders to tackle the challenging 11-mile loop around Schreiner Park — filled with switchbacks and some hairpin turns.
In Category 2, riders covered 22 miles, two legs, and Gudgell covered the first leg in 45-minutes, 34 seconds — among the fastest of the day.
"The last parts uphill got really tiring," Gudgell said, who finished the 22-mile course in 1:33.37.
For the Salladins, who own Hill Country Bicycle Works, this is part of a long effort to turn Schreiner Park into a mountain biking hotspot. The couple, along with Appleton, have put long hours into mapping out riding spots and trails and then building them.
With ample parking and space, especially along Bandera Highway, Nye-Salladin said the future could be very bright for mountain biking in the Hill Country.
"We've been part of the mountain biking community in Texas for 26 years," Nye-Salladin said. "The response has been really good. This venue is awesome. We always thought that was the case. I think it will really grow."
FESTIVAL OF FESTIVALS
Lisa Nye-Salladin made an interesting point, and that's Kerrville, along with Kerr County, is becoming a haven for FESTIVALS. If you're keeping track at home we've got:
- The Kerrville Folk Festival, which turns 50 next year.
- The Kerrville Triathlon Festival, which had another stellar year.
- The Kerrville Mountain Bike Festival, which seems very promising.
- The Kerrville Chalk Festival, which is a home run.
And if you think about it, all of these festivals are held at distinctive locations that show off a particularly unique facet of the Hill Country. One idea that we've teased is some sort of theater festival to take advantage of our great facilities. Others advocate more use of Nimitz Lake and stretches of the Guadalupe River for boating and kayaking sports. Heck, how about a running festival? The sky is the limit in Kerrville and Kerr County.
SCHREINER VOLLEYBALL IS AT HOME, FACES NATIONALLY-RANKED TEAMS
Schreiner University volleyball junior Brooke Byer is Mountaineer's kill leader, but she was limited to five kills against the nation's No. 3-ranked team in Trinity University on Sunday.
Schreiner University women's volleyball coach Alyssa Hanley knows she has a young team. However, it still doesn't sit well that her team is 4-16 on the season and 3-11 in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The Mountaineers finished 1-3 in a two-day SCAC event at Schreiner over the weekend. However, two losses came against NCAA Division III nationally-ranked powers Colorado College and Trinity University. The Mountaineers did score a 3-1 victory over St. Thomas on Saturday night.
This was also the first time the Mountaineers had played at home since Sept. 21, when Schreiner lost to Mary Hardin-Baylor, also nationally ranked at the time.
"Being on the road is tough," Hanley said. "We travel about 95% of the time. So, we're constantly playing in environments we're not used to, with not a lot of fan base. There are a lot of challenges to it. It's not ideal, but I think we handle it pretty well."
Hanley only had six players returning from last year's team to make things even more challenging, but first-year players are promising. At times Sunday, Schreiner showed fight and determination against No. 3-ranked Trinity, which is unbeaten in SCAC play. The Mountaineers squandered early leads and could never correct mistakes that cost them points.
Trinity hit .400, only committing four hitting errors, while Schreiner struggled to hit .130. The Mountaineers committed 22 hitting errors. Those are the kind of mistakes you can't make against a perennial power and nationally-ranked program. Trinity won the match 3-0, but the Mountaineers kept things close in the third set with a 25-19 loss.
"It was a tough match for us, and I think we went into it not quite prepared," said Hanley, adding this was the Mountaineers' fourth match of the weekend — also one delayed by two hours. "I think we gave them a different look than we had in the past because we have size. We haven't had that in the past."
Over the weekend, the Mountaineers lost their opener against Colorado College, 3-0, before beating St. Thomas. The Mountaineers lost 3-1 to Texas Lutheran on Sunday, but Hanley said the team played well. Brooke Byer and Taylor Braxton led the Mountaineers with 15 kills each in the loss.
First-year player Rebecca Ober had a team-high nine kills against Trinity on Sunday.
Byer, a junior, has emerged as the No. 1 offensive player for the Mountaineers with 242 kills this season, while junior Kayla Lofland continues to be solid with 220 kills. Lofland has more than 800 career kills for the Mountaineers. The Trinity match snapped a five-match streak of 10 kills or more.
Schreiner returns to action at 6 p.m. Wednesday by playing host to Our Lady of the Lake in the final home match of the season.
Junior Kayla Lofland has more than 800 career kills for the Mountaineers.
First-year player Jillian Fleming had six kills against Trinity.
SCHREINER'S GYM HAS THE GREATEST AC IN KERR COUNTY
There's no doubt the air conditioner works well at Schreiner University's events center.
SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED SOME FUN
After the events of Saturday afternoon and covering the deaths of two children, we needed to find a little joy to close out the day. We found it at a carnival in the mall parking lot. As a parent and grandparent, these are the memories we want. Even on a day of heartbreak, there was something to make us smile.