Crash during race at Missouri State Fair injures five

Monday, August 20, 2012 | 6:44 a.m. CDT; updated 11:45 a.m. CDT, Monday, August 20, 2012

COLUMBIA — A 57-year-old Columbia man was among those injured in a crash during the “Battle of the Badges” charity race at the Missouri State Fair on Sunday night.

The race, set up to raise money for the Missouri Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics, involved off-duty police officers driving old police cars, mostly privately owned Crown Victorias.

Sgt. Collin Stosberg of the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported that driver Tyson Russell, 25, of Crocker lost control after a multiple-vehicle collision on the dirt track and crashed through a guardrail barrier and safety fence, striking five spectators in the infield area.

Mark Quisenberry, 57, of Columbia was among the spectators injured. He was airlifted to University Hospital in Columbia after suffering serious injuries.

Lela Wood, 34, of California, Mo., also was airlifted to University Hospital with moderate injuries, and Jessalin Degonia, 27, of California, Mo., was taken by ambulance to Bothwell Hospital in Sedalia. The Associated Press reported that Wood and Degonia were expected to be released on Monday afternoon.

Barry Smith, 46, of Florence and Archie Simpson, 67, of Columbia suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. Russell was uninjured.

Fair officials canceled the remainder of the race soon after the 9 p.m. crash. Just 45 minutes earlier, a 15-year-old Carrolton driver suffered serious injuries when his race car overturned several times while negotiating a curve. He was flown by helicopter to University Hospital and also listed in serious but stable condition Monday morning, Stosberg said.

The teen driver, whose name was not released, was involved in a sprint car event, where racers often get behind the wheel years earlier, Stosberg said.

"Young children start racing in the first, second and third grade in these sprint cars," he said. "It's not uncommon to have a young driver who could have 10 years' experience."

A State Fair spokeswoman declined to discuss the accidents, referring questions to the Highway Patrol. Charity race organizers with Top Tier promotions did not immediately respond to telephone messages seeking comment.

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