HOUSTON - Illegal street racing turned deadly Wednesday on Richmond Avenue in Houston. It’s part of a problem that’s been trending in the wrong direction in the past year, according to Houston Police Traffic Crimes Task Force Sgt. F. Gomez.
He says street racing has become a nightly issue in Houston, jeopardizing the lives of innocent drivers, and in the latest case, taking the life of the man who was racing.
"We have seen an increase," said Gomez. "I mean the increase is really significant."
This dangerous and deadly problem has grown worse during the pandemic, said Gomez, adding that people seem to do it for fun in their free time.
"There’s a probability that it is due to COVID," said Gomez.
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In the latest street racing crash, police say witnesses spotted a BMW was driving at a high rate of speed down Richmond Avenue, racing against a black Dodge Challenger or Charger. At about 2:25 a.m., the BMW hit a tree after running a stop light at Hillcroft.
Police say the impact split the car in half and caused it to burst into flames. The other car kept going, and police are looking for that driver.
"We’ll beef up the police presence in that area and our traffic crimes task force will be out there to see if we can get any illegal activities going on," said Gomez.
He says the races often happen during "park and chill" events where people gather to show off their cars.
"They start revving their engine, doing donuts in the parking lot, causing smoke, basically causing havoc," said Gomez.
The problem of people racing in excess of 100-miles-per hour on public roads has become more and more common and spreads across the City of Houston.
"Almost on a nightly basis we’re having groups meet, and whether they’re doing street racing on the roadway, highway, or they’re trying to do some type of takeover, and that can include an intersection, that can include a private parking lot or just like a commercial parking lot as well," said Gomez.
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In the case of the Richmond Avenue deadly crash, police say the car that man was racing is still on the loose. They’re asking people to call the Houston police non-emergency line if you have information on the whereabouts of the driver of the black Dodge Challenger or Charger.
Gomez says people should call 911 if they see someone street racing.
The consequences can include getting arrested and charges of racing on the highway, charged with deadly conduct, charged with reckless driving, and police will seize your vehicle.