The NASCAR racing community is in mourning this weekend after the death of William ‘Rowdy’ Harrell, a pit crew member for racing team Hendrick Motorsports, and his new wife Blakley.
Harell, 30, and Blakley, 23, died on Tuesday night in the Florida Keys while on their honeymoon — only three days after their wedding — when the car William was driving crossed over the center median on the highway and ran head-first into a truck coming the other way.
According to the racing team, the pair had gotten married over this past weekend, and had only been newlyweds for three days when the incident occurred. Reports in the Miami Herald suggest that the crash occurred at 9:40 p.m local time on Tuesday night, when a 2020 Toyota Corolla driven by Harrell passed over the center line on US Highway 1 and collided head-on with a 2013 Ford F-250 pickup truck. The truck had been driving over on the shoulder to try to avoid the oncoming Corolla, but was ultimately unable to avoid the collision.
In addition to the deaths of the newlywed Harrell couple, the truck driver and his two passengers were all taken to the hospital with injuries ranging from minor to more serious, according to the outlet. All drivers and passengers involved had been wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash; authorities are now investigating whether alcohol could have been involved in the incident.
Greg Ives, the crew chief for the No. 88 racing team and driver Alex Bowman, on which Harrell was a pit crew member, released a statement about the accident, saying (below):
“Our entire team is absolutely devastated at the loss of Rowdy and Blakley. They were such positive, giving and passionate people who could not have been a more perfect match. Rowdy had an energetic and infectious personality. He was the heart and soul of our team and always kept us motivated, no matter the circumstance. Rowdy shared his love with the people around him and was loved in return. Although he will be greatly missed, his memory will continue to inspire us always. Our prayers are with Rowdy, Blakley and their wonderful family.”
The driver Bowman also released his own statement on Twitter on Wednesday evening, writing (below):
“Rowdy was everything that made the 88 team, the 88 team. The biggest personality and the best person. He was the happiest person you’d ever meet, and that was only reinforced by his wife Blakley. Rip to an absolute legend. You’ll be missed every single day brother.”
Just awful, awful stuff…
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the extended Harrell family and all of the couple’s other friends and loved ones as they mourn this terrible, sudden tragedy.