Firecracker at cycle race injures two spectators

June 08, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare and Traci A. Johnson | Mary Gail Hare and Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writers

Bob Markey, president of the White Rose Motorcycle Club in York County, Pa., just wanted the spectators at the Jefferson Hill Climb motorcycle race to have a good time Sunday.

But a troublemaker with a powerful firecracker spoiled it, permanently injuring a Carroll County woman.

"You put your heart and soul into getting these events started," said Mr. Markey, whose club has sponsored the event since 1956. "From day one, it has been a family-oriented event. People who make trouble are not welcome."

Police are searching for the spectator who threw a lighted M-80, LTC equivalent to a quarter-stick of dynamite, into the race crowd.

Teresa Keene, 34, of Westminster lost four right fingers when she picked the firecracker up and it exploded.

Ms. Keene underwent surgery Sunday night, but doctors at York Hospital were unable to reattach her fingers.

She was in satisfactory condition, hospital officials said. A woman who answered the phone in Ms. Keene's room at York Hospital yesterday said she would not give any interviews.

Joan Glover, 22, also of Westminster, was treated for burns on her right leg and released from Hanover General Hospital.

Trooper Kenneth Grossman, who is investigating the case for the Pennsylvania State Police in York, said Ms. Keene reported that "she saw it fall and her intent was to throw it to an area where there weren't many people."

Mr. Grossman said police are continuing to review videos taken by spectators during the event to identify the culprit or possible witnesses.

"It's not concluded yet," Trooper Grossman said of the investigation. "There was an estimated 4,500 people there and we have interviewed about 30 or 40 at this point.

"We have some information firmed up at this point, and other [leads] we're still looking into," he said.

Mr. Markey is still shocked at the turn of events during the twice-yearly race, which he said is the oldest motorcycle event in the country. The race Sunday attracted 43 riders from the United States and Canada.

"We have never had anything like this," said Mr. Markey of the incident. "It's just some crazy idiot."

Mr. Markey said that in recent years, a group of substance abusers has disrupted several local sporting events. While trying to control them, he said, "I have been hit with many a beer can."

Spectators threw full cans of beer at one security guard who ousted a woman for baring her breasts Sunday. Moments before the explosion that injured Ms. Keene, another firecracker had been thrown in the direction of six security guards, witnesses said.

Cpl. Julio Mendez said he cannot recall any time when police have had to respond to an incident on the race grounds.

"Through the years, there have been isolated incidents, most occurring after the event," said Corporal Mendez. "There are problems when these people leave. We get a lot of complaints about incidents on the roads, mostly drunk driving."

Mr. Markey said years ago, he used only one guard and that was to handle traffic. This year there were 40. And now, the guards limit the alcohol at the gate and control the crowds.

"How do you sort out the troublemakers?" he asked. "You can't have searches and have the guards holding everybody's hand."

Anyone who has information about the explosion is asked to call the Pennsylvania State Police at (717) 428-1011 and speak to someone in the Criminal Investigation Unit.

Race coordinator Bill Eyler said the club is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who threw the explosive.

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