Flag Poles And Power Lines
NASCAR Fans Killed When Flagpole Hits Power Lines. Fans Were Putting Up Flagpole
POSTED: 11:30 am EDT April 25, 2006
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Two NASCAR fans are dead after hitting power lines with a flagpole they were putting up.
A spokeswoman at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama said the two men died at a campground outside the track Monday. Fans commonly use poles to fly flags to cheer on their favorite driver.
Witnesses said the men were trying to anchor the flagpole when wind pushed it into power lines. A man who was near the victims' camp site said the two were trying to pull the flagpole off the lines when he heard "a loud pop." He said the victims were lying on the ground and women were trying to get them away from the power lines, which had fallen.
Talladega County coroner Jerry Castleberry said the two men were killed by electrocution, according to Birmingham TV station WVTM.
Castleberry said Keith Stell, 39, of Birmingham, and Ronny Wright, 42, of Remlap, died instantly.
Paramedics tried to revive the men, but it was too late.
Castleberry said the men had still been holding on to the pole when it touched the power lines and they "didn't have a chance."
Track officials were shaken by the incident. Vice President Rick Humphrey could not recall anything like it in his 10 years at Talladega.
"What happened (Monday) is unfortunate. It appears to be an accident, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the two families," Humphrey said.
Instead of racing, talk at the track centered on the fans who died. Witnesses struggled to make sense of the incident.
"It's just horrible. I had a friend who died like this, with power lines like this. It's just horrible," said one fan.
Just a few yards away from where the incident happened, race fan Tom Smith finished setting up camp, acutely aware of the hidden dangers that camping can pose.
"I've been in the fire service just over 30 years. It's a daily thing, where you place your ladders for house fires and so forth. It kind of goes home, also, with all the safety issues," Smith sad.
Track officials said they do not plan any changes for the rest of race week, but they urge fans to use caution and be aware of their surroundings when camping at the track.
The Aaron's 499 race will be run at the track Sunday.
Distributed by Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report.