SELMER, Tenn. -- A day after a drag-racing car barreled into a crowd and killed six people, witnesses questioned why the driver was allowed to speed down a multilane highway with no guardrails, lined on both sides by hundreds of spectators.
"It isn't really safe to do anything with drag cars on a city street," said 19-year-old spectator Garett Moore, who said he was about 15 feet away from the wreck Saturday but was uninjured. "They shouldn't have done it."
Mike Browning, spokesman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, said the six who were killed included two 15-year-old girls and a 17-year-old. The crash injured 18 others, including a 5-year-old boy, who were taken to hospitals in Tennessee and Mississippi.
The crash happened during an "exhibition burnout" -- when a drag racer spins the tires fast enough to make them smoke -- at the Cars for Kids charity event in Selmer, about 80 miles east of Memphis.
Authorities identified the driver yesterday as pro drag racer Troy Warren Critchley, an Australian who is based in Wylie, Texas. He suffered minor injuries and was taken by car to a hospital for treatment.
No criminal charges were brought against Critchley, Browning said.
The Highway Patrol declined to make any statement yesterday about road conditions or safety procedures during the event, a parade of cars that was followed by the drag-racing demonstration.
Mourners placed votive candles, flowers, a teddy bear, and a ceramic angel at the crash site yesterday.
In an amateur video of the crash, broadcast on WMC-TV in Memphis, the car's engine is heard revving loudly before the vehicle speeds down the highway. After a few hundred feet, the car skidded off the road in front of a drive-in restaurant.
Police Chief Neal Burks said "bodies were flying into the air when it happened."
There was a guard rail along at least part of the highway, but not along the section where the accident occurred.
Drivers of other dragsters in the parade had been spinning their tires and then accelerating quickly, but everyone else put on the brakes before going past the guard rails, Moore said.
"This is definitely not the kind of road you should be drag racing on," Moore said. "This isn't a flat, open surface like you have at a race track."
Nick Staples, who was at the show with his wife and three children from Columbus, Miss., said he was standing 20 feet from where the car plowed into the audience.
"There should have been guardrails," Staples said. "But even if there had been, it wouldn't have mattered."
The Highway Patrol said Raven Griswell, 15, of Finger, and Sean Michael Driskill, 22, of Adamsville, died at the scene. Brook L. Pope, 20, of Selmer; Scarlett Replogle, 15, of Selmer; Kimberly A. Barfield, 17, of Adamsville; and Nicole Griswell died later in area hospitals.
A crowd of up to 60,000 people had been expected to attend the event.
After a parade of vehicles from antique cars to modern dragsters, Moore thought the show was over.
"I was about to head across the street, and I saw him barreling toward us," he said.
Matthew Brammer, administrator of AMS Pro Modified Series, which sanctions drag races, said the car involved in the wreck had been driven by Critchley in competition.
Critchley's website said he began his career in an engine building shop in Brisbane, Australia, in 1986, then raced on the Australian circuit in the '90s. He moved to the United States in 1998. By late yesterday afternoon, the website was not available.
Cars for Kids holds several events throughout the nation and raises close to $200,000 annually for charities that help children in need, according to its website.
A statement posted on the website yesterday offered an apology to the victims and their families: "The loss is deep within our hearts and we will carry the scars of each loss forever."
The charity was formed in 1990, two years after founder Larry Price's son, Chad, suffered a severe head injury in a bicycle accident. Price promised that if his son was saved from lifelong injuries, he would spend the rest of his life raising funds for disabled children, according to the website.