Chili Bowl Racer Donnie Ray Crawford III Killed By His Grandfather

Saturday, January 14th 2012, 11:07 am
By: Dee Duren

Wagoner County Sheriff's Office released the names of two men killed in a family dispute Saturday morning.  Officials confirmed that prominent Green Country racer Donnie Ray Crawford III died at the family home in the 3700 block of South 273rd East Avenue.

Crawford was the favorite son, the local boy competing on the national track.  But the Broken Arrow native died before fulfilling his dreams of victory.

"It's a shock anytime you get a call like this but when you find out that it was such a senseless shootin," said Bob Colbert, the Wagoner County sheriff.

The Crawfords had been spending the week participating in the Chili Bowl races.  Colbert said the family was just about to leave for the races when 74-year-old Daniel Garcia suddenly started shooting at his grandson, 24-year-old Donnie Ray.

The sheriff says that's when Garcia's daughter Jodie Crawford stepped in to protect Donnie Ray, her son.

"Mrs. Crawford was wounded in the altercation trying to get control of Mr. Garcia and Mr. Garcia was also deceased in that altercation," Colbert said.

At some point, the sheriff says Donnie Crawford stepped in to help his wife Jodie stop the fight and protect their son.

Despite their efforts, the OU student and respected racer died at the hands of his grandfather.

Jodie and Donnie were both injured in the gunfight.

"Our hearts just go out to the family. I'm sure they never thought they'd have to defend their child from another family member."

Sheriff Colbert said Daniel Garcia, the man who started the fight, has a criminal history.

He spent 10 months behind bars for a 2004 conviction of assault with a dangerous weapon.

Now investigators are looking for answers to the disturbing question: Why did Garcia open fire on his own grandson?

Only those four family members were inside the house, and the grandfather did live there.

The Sheriff says the parents, Jodie and Donnie Crawford, received only minor injuries and are OK.

Donnie Ray Crawford is credited with saving a fellow driver's life during a race in Oklahoma City in 2008. He rushed to pull 12-year-old Harli White from her burning mini sprint car at the I-44 Speedway in Oklahoma City. White suffered burns to about half her body. Witnesses say she would have died had Crawford not rescued her.

4/8/2008 Related Story: Race Car Driver Hailed A Hero

Crawford was the 2007 Chili Bowl Midget Nationals Rookie of the Year and was to race at Saturday night's event.

News On 6 Sports Anchor Dave Davis interviewed Crawford earlier this week about his hopes in the Chili Bowl Nationals, held this weekend at the Fairgrounds.

"We kind of feel like this is our home track, that they boys around Oklahoma need to defend it. It is the greatest dirt track race in the nation, in the world for that matter, and people don't realize it's right in their backyard," Crawford said.

1/10/2012 Related Story: Chili Bowl Races Return To Tulsa

Crews were called to the scene shortly after 9 a.m. The call initially went to Broken Arrow emergency dispatchers, but the area is outside the police department's jurisdiction.

Jodie Crawford was wounded in the hip and taken to a Tulsa hospital.

She was conscious and able to talk to emergency crews, calling out "I don't want to lose my son," according to News On 6 photojournalist Bill Aycock.