Man who ran down 2 students faces manslaughter charges

MOORE, Okla. (AP) — A man was charged with manslaughter Friday in the deaths of two suburban Oklahoma City high school cross-country athletes whom he hit with his truck as they ran on a sidewalk just a day after his own son was killed in a traffic accident.

Max Leroy Townsend, 57, is accused of running over six Moore High School cross-country runners in front of the school Monday afternoon, killing senior Rachel Freeman and sophomore Yuridia Martinez. The four other students were injured, and one of them remained in critical condition Friday.

Townsend was also charged Friday with leaving the scene of a fatality accident, driving under the influence causing great bodily injury, and leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury, District Attorney Greg Mashburn said.

The students were running on a sidewalk when Townsend plowed them down with a pickup truck, according to investigators. Townsend drove off and was stopped several blocks away by witnesses who pursued him from the accident site, police said.

Mashburn said Friday that investigators believe Townsend was driving 65 to 70 mph in the 25 mph school zone.

Prosecutors allege Townsend had stayed up drinking after his shift ended at 2 a.m. to mourn his son. Cody Townsend, 28, was killed Sunday in a multi-vehicle crash in Moore, official said.

A man who talked to Townsend after the crash outside the school said he was talking to himself and said, “I just lost my son.”

Mashburn said Friday that there’s no evidence that the crash was intentional.

Max Townsend has a lengthy criminal history in Oklahoma that includes multiple convictions for driving under the influence, public intoxication, possession of drugs and stolen property, stalking and child abuse, court records show. He served time in prison on convictions for child abuse, receiving stolen property and possession of drugs, but was released in 2009, state prison records show.


This story has been corrected to show the man who said Townsend was talking to himself met Townsend after the crash outside the school, not before.