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Driver in Deadly Tennessee Drag-Racing Accident Had Prior DWI Conviction

An Australian drag-racer whose car crashed into a crowd of spectators during a charity car show parade, killing six young people, was convicted of drunken driving in Virginia in 2000, court records show.

Troy Warren Critchley pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in April 2000, according to court records from Loudoun County, Va. He lost his driver's license for a year and paid $381 in fines and court costs, the record shows.

Critchley lost control of the dragster Saturday during a "burnout exhibition" at a Cars for Kids parade in Selmer, a small town about 80 miles east of Memphis.

The burnout — spinning a cars wheels to send up clouds of smoke — was staged on a city street with no protective barriers between the dragster and hundreds of spectators lining both sides of the road.

Six spectators, ages 15 to 22, were killed and at least 23 other people were injured, many seriously.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the crash and no criminal charges have been filed. District Attorney General Mike Dunavant said Critchley gave a blood sample which is being tested for drugs and alcohol.

"That's still pending at the (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) crime lab," Dunavant said.

No one answered the door Tuesday at Critchley's rural home in the Dallas suburb of Rockwall, and a neighbor told The Associated Press he had not seen Critchley since the accident. Critchley's racing team is based in Wylie, Texas, just a few miles from Rockwall.

Critchley's whereabouts Tuesday were not immediately known, and he has not made any public statements since the crash. Repeated phone messages to a spokesman for his racing team have not been returned.

Dunavant said he would present the results of the crash investigation to a grand jury if he decides criminal charges are warranted. The next grand jury in McNairy County meets in October.

If criminal charges are sought, "it doesn't mean that I'm only focused on the driver," Dunavant said.

"It could involve other persons who might be criminally responsible for the behavior ... that caused the deaths of six people," he said.

Relatives of victims and other critics of the burnout exhibition have questioned why such a display was allowed on a public street.

Amateur video of the crash shows the car's engine revving loudly before the vehicle sped down the highway. After a few hundred feet, the smoking car skidded off the road and into the crowd.

The Cars for Kids festival, a highlight of the year in rural McNairy County, has been held for 18 years in Selmer. Similar events are staged around the country by the nonprofit group to raise money for children's' hospitals and other such charities.