Manslaughter charges in hit-and-run accident that killed future OBU student athlete

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MOORE, Okla. (AP) — A man accused of striking and killing two suburban Oklahoma City high school cross-country runners who were running on a sidewalk was charged Friday with manslaughter in the deaths.

This Feb. 3, 2020 photo from the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office shows Max Leroy Townsen. Two Oklahoma high school students remain in critical condition after being struck by a pickup truck that killed one girl and injured three other students. Police arrested 57-year-old Townsend and say he was driving the truck that struck members of a high school cross country team in suburban Oklahoma City. (Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Max Leroy Townsend, 57, is accused of running over six Moore High School cross-country runners in front of the school Monday, killing senior Rachel Freeman and sophomore Yuridia Martinez. The four other students were injured, and one of them remained in critical condition Friday.

Townsend was also charged Friday with leaving the scene of a fatality accident, driving under the influence causing great bodily injury, and leaving the scene of an accident causing person injury, District Attorney Greg Mashburn said.

Emergency crews respond to a scene where the red vehicle hit several Moore High School students, killing at least one, in Moore, Okla., Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. At least one girl was killed and several other people were injured, three critically, when a motorist slammed his vehicle into the high school cross-country team as they ran along a street outside their suburban Oklahoma City school Monday, officials said. (Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman via AP)

The students were running on a sidewalk when Townsend plowed them down with a pickup truck, according to investigators. Townsend drove off and was stopped several blocks away by witnesses who pursued him from the accident site, police said. Investigators suspect Townsend was intoxicated when the accident happened.

Mashburn said Friday that investigators believe Townsend was driving 65 to 70 mph in the 25 mph school zone.

The incident happened one day after Townsend’s son was killed in a traffic crash, officials said. Cody Townsend, 28, was killed Sunday in a multi-vehicle crash in Moore.

Emergency crews respond to a scene where a vehicle hit several Moore High School students, killing at least one, in Moore, Okla., Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. At least one girl was killed and several other people were injured, three critically, when a motorist slammed his vehicle into the high school cross-country team as they ran along a street outside their suburban Oklahoma City school Monday, officials said. (Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman via AP)

A man who talked to Townsend not long before the crash outside the school said he was talking to himself and said, “I just lost my son.”

Mashburn said Friday that there’s no evidence Townsend intended to veer off the roadway and hit the students.

Max Townsend has a lengthy criminal history in Oklahoma that includes multiple convictions for driving under the influence, public intoxication, possession of drugs and stolen property, stalking and child abuse, court records show. He served time in prison on convictions for child abuse, receiving stolen property and possession of drugs, but was released in 2009, state prison records show.

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