Street race ends
fatally for two riders
Fast cars, quick death: Three South Carolinians
in Cobb for convention; driver lost control
By JEFFRY SCOTT and BETH WARREN
Three friends from South Carolina headed to Atlanta in a candy-apple red Z-28 Camaro for a weekend of fast cars and good times.
Two of them did not survive the trip.
About 2 a.m. Sunday they got into a street race with another Z-28 in front of the Cobb County hotel where they were attending the Fbody Gathering 7 convention for owners of high-performance Pontiac Firebirds and Chevrolet Camaros.
Scott M. Alexander lost control of his Camaro and the car slammed into a pole on Interstate North Parkway SE, a curvy, four-lane road in front of the Atlanta Marriott Northwest hotel, according to Cobb County Police.
Passengers Charles E. Perry, 28, whose wife is pregnant with their second son, and Hayden "Joe" Wallace IV, 24, who left behind a fiancée, were thrown from the back seat of the car and killed.
Alexander was taken by air ambulance to Atlanta Medical Center, officials said. His condition was not available Sunday evening. Katherine Brogan, 20, of Branchburg, N.J., who was riding in the front seat on the passenger side, was taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital, where she was under observation Sunday evening.
The second car in the race, a 1995 silver Z-28, was not involved in the crash. Officials said it was driven by Neil D. Emery of Beaufort, S.C. He was taken to a local hospital and tested for sobriety, which is routine when an accident causes a fatality. Police are awaiting the results of the test, and the accident remains under investigation, said Cobb Police spokesman Cpl. Dana Pierce.
The race took place a few hours after a "beach party" in the parking lot of the hotel Saturday evening attended by many of the conventioneers. A live band performed at the party until about midnight.
Pierce said Cobb police had answered a call for "suspicious activity" earlier in the evening but found nothing. "Things may have flared up after police left," said Pierce.
The street in front of the hotel is marked with streaks of rubber, suggesting cars taking off at high speed.
June Thompson, director of operations for the Marriott, said Sunday that she did not know of any complaints about noise or other activities at the hotel Saturday afternoon or evening.
Pierce said it is not clear whether people gathered to watch the impromptu drag race early Sunday morning. It wasn't a scheduled or sanctioned event.
But "there were a number of people in the parking lot who saw the activity," said Pierce.
People who attended the gathering at the Marriott included families with children as well as people ranging from their 20s to their 40s. The weekend-long event included speakers, vendor displays and an award ceremony. Several attendees said they did not know much about the accident, but they stressed that street racing is not a normal part of their gatherings. They described the weekend as a "shine and show," where people clean up their cars to show them off.
Perry's mother, Linda Clemeny, said she never thought she had to warn her adult son about the dangers of drag racing.
"He had just recently gotten into cars," she said. "He was a very intelligent person."
He leaves behind a pregnant wife, a 7-year-old son, two sisters and a brother.
Police notified Wallace's fiancée at her home early Sunday in Union, S.C. She and Joe Wallace had been dating for a couple of years, and he had grown close to her 6-year-old son through baseball, soccer and a shared love of video games.
Wallace, who worked in the computer field, had just opened his own business a couple of months ago and was days away from moving into a new home he and his fiancée had built.
"They were getting ready to settle down," said Wallace's father, Hayden J. Wallace III of Columbia, S.C. "He's done a lot with his life. It's just a shame it was cut short."
Joe Wallace began showing an interest in fast sports cars about four or five years ago, his father said.
"We knew he was going to different car shows," said Hayden Wallace. "Obviously, he's been told about not street racing and about wearing seat belts, but like all kids he gets hard-headed.
guess they just met someone and decided to race," the father said.
Die in Drag Race Accident
Two South Carolina men in their mid-20's died in a drag racing accident in Cobb County, Ga., on Sunday morning.
Police say the driver of a red Z-28 was racing with a silver car along Interstate North Parkway in Marietta. The driver of the red car lost control and slammed into a pole before flipping and hitting an interstate sign.
The two men who died were passengers in the back seat.
Cpl. Dana Pierce with the Cobb County Police Department told 11Alives Renee Starzyk, "After striking that concrete pillar, it spun that vehicle into an overhead interstate sign next to the roadway, threw both of the rear passengers out of the vehicle and they are deceased here at the scene."
It is believed that the two men were attending an area car show. Car enthusiast Don Jenson visited the scene hours after the incident to view the wreckage and talk about the show.
"It's just a big, I wouldn't say a party. It's just, we hang out, we talk to each other, we see friends we haven't seen in years," Jenson explained.
Jenson and other car enthusiasts made it clear that although they love fast cars, they do not condone street racing and are aware that accidents can happen easily.
Cpl. Pierce wishes that the racing had been reported and expressed sympathy. "Really the sadness, two people engaged in a speed contest causing the death of at least two in the vehicle and really changing the lives of the driver and the passenger in that automobile forever," he said.
The driver of the red car was airlifted to a local hospital. There is no word on his condition. A woman in the front seat of the car was treated at the scene.
Police say the two men in the silver car were not injured.
Questions, comments and criticisms can be directed to: Jeff