Race car driver crashes into Osgood home
Police say alcohol is a factor

Wanda English Burnett - Editor

What began as a night of racing at the Ripley County Fairgrounds Park in Osgood on Friday, May 18, ended in a crash that sent the driver to jail.

According to Osgood Town Marshal Rodney Stepleton, he along with officers from the Ripley County Sheriff’s Dept., were dispatched to a car crash Friday night, but it wasn’t in the Fairground Park. What they found was a race car – #73 – smashed into a home at 325 Cherry Street.

According to witnesses, when the race came to an end, Russell Thomas, 33, of Brookville, disregarded the checkered flag and continued on the Figure 8 track, where he was described as “showing off.”
Then the crowd was shocked as the car ramped a bank between the track and the emergency staging area. In this area were personnel from Rescue 69 with an ambulance, Task Unit One members and their emergency response vehicles.

The race car careened through the emergency staging area and exited the fairgrounds through a tree fence boundary line. An emergency personnel member noted when the car when through the fence line, it snapped a tree about 10” in diameter, skinning a much larger tree.

The car then went through a residential yard close to a play area across Sycamore Street, struck a parked car pushing it into a house – finally stopping the runaway race car.

Rescue workers followed the path of the car and when it came to rest, noted the vehicle was “still running at full force.”

Thomas refused medical treatment and told officers the gas pedal had “stuck” causing him to lose control.

Marshal Stepleton noted that Thomas was actually intoxicated and when tested, was “over double the legal limit.” He was initially charged with OVWI/Endangering and OVWI with a blood alcohol level greater than the legal limit.

“This is not the first incident at the fairgrounds where the use of alcohol has led to law enforcement being called,” noted Marshal Stepleton. He expressed is concern saying, “now the effects of using alcohol at the fairgrounds has come out into the town.” The house that was crashed into is near the marshal’s home. “It’s just too close,” he noted.

There is a “no alcohol policy” in place at the Fairgrounds Park. It’s just not quite clear who should enforce that policy.

“Someone’s going to get hurt,” Marshal Stepleton concluded, saying this time everyone was lucky, no one – including the race car driver – was injured.

A Task Unit One member echoed the marshal’s statement saying, “Kids were getting into a vehicle and the out-of-control race car came within five feet of hitting them.”

The race was sponsored by TE Motorsports according to a police report.

Russell Thomas crashed his race car into another car located at 325 Cherry Street, Osgood, after his car left the racetrack at the Ripley County Fairgrounds on Saturday night. The car Thomas hit then ramed into the house causing damage to the home.