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Two dead, six injured in highway drag-racing accident

December 30, 1996

WHITAKERS, N.C. (AP) _ A car taking part in an illegal drag race went out of control and slammed into a crowd of spectators, killing two people and injuring six.

Investigators did not say which car crashed into the crowd of 30 spectators who had lined up along State Road 1515, a desolate stretch of highway 60 miles east of Raleigh. Three parked cars burst into flames in the Friday night crash.

Killed were two spectators, Tommy Lewis Bunn, 47, of Littleton and Theodore Daniel, 39, of Whitakers.

Two other spectators were in critical condition today, one was in good condition and the other two had been released from the hospital One of the drivers, Benjamin Bacon, 37, of New York, was in guarded condition. The identity of the second driver was not released.

Both cars were modified for drag racing, highway patrol Trooper R.T. Futrell said. ``They’re not for road use,″ he said. ``In their condition, they cannot be licensed.″

WRAL-TV reported that people at the scene of the crash, who refused to be identified, said the race attracted tens of thousands of dollars in bets. Futrell said Sunday he could not confirm whether any betting was going on but said the event was staged by organizers other than the drivers themselves.

``Put it this way: A man drove down from New York to be in the race,″ Futrell said.

Drivers and organizers could face charges of prearranged racing, a misdemeanor, and homicide offenses ranging from second-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter, Futrell said.

A woman who lives nearby said the road is a popular illicit racing spot.

``Ten or 15 cars will come down the road,″ said Charlene Deans. ``They’ll go down and then they’ll come back, it’ll be like two at a time and it’ll go on an hour or so.″

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