MOORE, Okla. (KFOR) – It has been one year since a tragic crash shook an Oklahoma community.
On Feb. 3, 2020, 57-year-old Max Townsend allegedly drove his truck into a group of cross country runners from Moore High School.
Investigators say Yuridia Martinez, Joseph White, Kolby Crum, Shiloh Hutchison, Ashton Baza, and Rachel Freeman had just started on their regular route when they were hit by Townsend’s pickup turck.
Officials say Moore High School senior Rachel Freeman died just feet away from the school after being hit.
“She was someone who strived to be her best, but then she was someone who supported her teammates, and she was also engaged in her community,” Rob Morris, who produced an athlete of the week piece on Freeman for Moore Monthly, said.
Officials say Yuridia Martinez, a sophomore, also died from injuries she sustained in the crash.
“We are so grateful for all the prayers, phone calls and e-mails from everyone supporting our family right now. We are living in a horrible dream that we can’t wake up from. We were blessed for 16 years with an amazing baby girl who filled our home and our lives with joy and fun and beauty. Yuridia had a heart for service and helping people in need. She loved her friends and adored her sisters. This is so difficult. We miss her very much. Please continue to pray for us, for Yuridia and for the children and families suffering this loss,” the Martinez family said in a statement.
Almost two weeks after the crash, Kolby Crum succumbed to his injuries.
“It is with immeasurable grief and sorrow that we share that Kolby left his earthly home to finish his race in heaven this morning. He impacted the lives around him in positive ways every day. He is so loved by so many and will be deeply missed. Please pray for peace that surpasses all understanding for his family and friends as they grieve the tremendous and devastating loss of this precious young man. Please pray on. #heartofalion,” The Prayers for Kolby Facebook page shared.
The three other victims spent months recovering from their injuries.
Joseph White, one of the victims, told KFOR that he doesn’t remember much leading up to the crash.
“The loud roar of an engine. It was just loud,” White said. “It almost sounded like a train revving at you. It’s hard to describe. It didn’t seem real at first.”
It’s a sound he was used to at the end of the day at a high school, but this time it was different.
“All of a sudden to hear that sound coming from behind you and you know it’s going to hit you, it’s just that feeling of helplessness.”
After that, he only knows what his friends told him.
“We just barely started, and I guess I was the first to turn around, and I turned around and I just yelled, “Oh ****,’” White said. “It came so fast and we couldn’t get out of the way, many of us.”
A week after the crash, Townsend was charged with 13 counts in Cleveland County District Court.
One year after the tragedy, the community is honoring the lives that were lost.
On Wednesday, the City of Moore is expected to unveil a new memorial that was designed to honor the runners.