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Donnie Ray Crawford: Death of Local Sprint Car Star Stuns Oklahoma Fans

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2012

Courtesy: NewsOn6.com
Courtesy: NewsOn6.com

The details surrounding Donnie Ray Crawford III's death after being shot by his grandfather, Daniel Garcia, are still unclear. That hasn't stopped the local racing community in Oklahoma from mourning the 24-year-old star.

Danica Lawrence of FOX 23 in Tulsa reports that one of the people to take Crawford's loss hard is fellow racer Harli White.

One of Crawford’s closest friends, 16-year-old Harli White, said Crawford was more than a friend, he was her hero. On April 5, 2008, White was 12 years old and was driving in her first race at the I-44 Speedway in Oklahoma City.

Her car caught fire, and Crawford happened to be nearby and had a fire suit on. He didn’t hesitate when he reached inside her car and pulled her out with her body on fire. He smothered her on the ground and put out the flames. That saved her life.

Crawford was in the process of moving into White's family home when the tragedy occurred. He was scheduled to start college at Oklahoma on Monday.

It's a truly unfortunate situation for his family and friends. Nobody knows what could cause Crawford's own grandfather to take his life (Garcia was also killed), but what everybody understands is that a life with so much promise was ended way too soon.

The report does state Garcia was charged with “intent to kill” back in 2004, which begs the question why he was allowed anywhere near firearms.

Local racers like Crawford rarely get any national attention, but they still play an important role in their communities. Oklahoma is one of many racing hotbeds in the south and, although it took a sad incident to make his name known nationally, Crawford was well respected locally.

He was Chili Bowl Midget Nationals Rookie of the Year in 2007. The shooting happened before he was able to participate in one of Saturday night's Chili Bowl races.

That didn't stop those involved from remembering him, as evidenced by the following tweet from Roger Slack:

It's moments like these that cause the racing community to band together. It doesn't matter if it's a Sprint Cup star or a local hero like Crawford—those involved with racing are a close-knit group and won't let Crawford be forgotten.

When somebody with so much potential is lost at such a young age, it forces everybody to remember how lucky they are to be living their racing dreams.

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