A group of student cross-country athletes walking outside Moore High School in Moore, Oklahoma, was struck by a red truck at 3:30 p.m. local time on February 3. The incident left one female victim dead, the Moore Police Department reported. The deceased victim has been identified as student Rachel Freeman.
On Tuesday, Dustin Horstkoetter, director of safety at Moore Public Schools, said sophomore Yuridia Martinez had also died.
Sergeant Jeremy Lewis described the suspect as a 57-year-old adult male, who was later identified as Max Leroy Townsend. As reported by Peyton Yayer of KFOR News, Townsend is being charged with manslaughter in the first degree and six counts of leaving the scene of an injury accident. Lewis said the kids were hit at a very high rate of speed.
Townsend has a lengthy rap sheet dating back to 1991. He’s previously been charged with child abuse multiple times, possession of stolen property and possession of a controlled substance. Police said Townsend’s 29-year-old son, Cody Townsend, was killed Sunday near Buck Thomas Park after he rear-ended another vehicle, as reported by The Oklahoman.
The suspect initially fled the scene in his vehicle, and KOCO 5 captured the red truck the suspect was driving on camera. Police arrested Townsend a few blocks away from the crash.
Dustin Horstkoetter, safety director for Moore Public Schools, told reporters the student-athletes were on a group run. “To come around the corner and see kids and coaches give first aid and help their classmates and their students . . .” he said. “We live in a real good community. My heart is hurting and broken.”
On Facebook, the Moore Police Department shared the following statement: “Officers are on scene of a serious accident on E. Main St. Main Street will be blocked from Eastern east to English. Please avoid the area as emergency crews will be entering and exiting.”
Sergeant Jeremy Lewis told KOCO 5 that while one victim is deceased, there are five others “in critical condition” at OU Medical. “The school will be giving a notification to parents as soon as possible. If they are concerned, [parents] should report to the high school gym.”
Moore High School is located at 300 N Eastern Avenue, a suburb south of Oklahoma City. Police told KOCO 5 reporter Evan Onstat the “call came out around the same time final bell rang at high school.”
Police Had Townsend Perform A Field Sobriety Test
Police administered a field sobriety test after arresting Townsend. He was asked to walk in a straight line, one foot in front of the other, and then to stand straight with both arms pinned to his sides.
Afterward, police escorted Townsend back inside the police vehicle. He went willingly, and police did not put handcuffs back on before taking him into custody.
Townsend’s vehicle heavily damaged multiple parked cars in the area before he was arrested. His red truck was found parked two blocks away from the crash scene with heavy damage to the front bumper area.
Prayers For The Victims & Their Families Poured In On Social Media
Numerous people posted their thoughts and prayers to the Moore Police Department’s Facebook page after learning of the tragic crash, especially knowing Freeman’s and Martinez’s lives were taken during the hit and run. The other four students who were injured and are receiving medical attention are Joseph White, Kolby Crum, Shiloh Hutchison and Ashton Baza.
According to Joleen Chaney of KFOR, two girls are being treated for broken bones. A third is being treated with a serious head injury. There hasn’t been an update on the fourth victim.