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12-year-old Arcadia boy dies of injuries from weekend auto race

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 03:23 PM

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The 12-year-old boy from Arcadia who was critically injured in a youth race at the Auburndale Speedway over the weekend died of his injuries this afternoon.

The owner of the track said the races are safe and will continue, though there probably will be some changes made to car harnesses increase safety.

"It was just a freak accident," said Rex Guy, who has owned the track for the past six years. "And I'll tell you another thing. It's safer than playing football with other kids. It's safer than getting into your car and driving down the street.''

Tyler Morr was racing in the Kids Club event at the raceway Winter Haven on Saturday when the car he was in bumped another and then crashed into a concrete wall.

He died at 3:15 p.m. today at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. He was initially taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, then to All Children's Hospital, where he remained in critical condition until his death.

Tyler's family, through All Children's Hospital, declined comment.

Tyler was driving a black stock car in a heat race at the track early Saturday night. He was competing against five other cars, going eight laps. The youth race is a regularly scheduled event at the track and involves drivers between 12 and 16.

Polk County sheriff's deputies are investigating the incident and declined to comment on Wednesday. Deputies said that during the race, Tyler was on the outside in the second turn when a second car, driven by 12-year-old Justin Cribbs of Lakeland, passed him on the inside.

Tyler moved toward the inside and into Justin, deputies said. Tyler lost control of the car, which rotated clockwise and struck a concrete wall bordering the outside of the track. Justin was not injured and drove his vehicle to the pit area when the race was stopped.

Both drivers were the sole occupants of their vehicles, and both were harnessed and wearing helmets. The vehicles, which are non-registered, modified cars built strictly for youth racing, were reinforced inside as is common with standard racing cars, deputies said.

The vehicles were estimated to be going 40-45 mph at the time of the crash.

Guy said the accident has taken its toll on him and the track personnel over the past few days.

"It's been crushing all week, believe me," he said, after being notified of Tyler's death. "I feel for the family. I've been waiting to talk to the family."

He said he has been getting calls expressing sympathy and support from racing enthusiasts from as far away as New York.

"They're telling me they are praying for the boy," Guy said.

He said the speedway will pay tribute to Tyler this weekend and include a fundraising effort for the 12-year-old's family. 

"I'll be there for the family," Guy said.

He said youth racing has been a part of the race track for 20 years, long before he bought it six years ago. "It's a popular event," he said.

He said the event will continue, though there will be some changes made with regard to the cars' harnesses.

"I'm not going to take away from the kids who want to do it," he said. "I'm sorry for it and I believe the Morr family will say the same thing. The kids love to do this."

He said he can't recall a wreck at his track in which a driver was killed or even seriously hurt.

"This track is one of the safest in the Southeast," he said. "It's just the way it's built."


kmorelli@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7760

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