‘I wished I was Superman’: Man, family feet away from Kerrville drag racing crash that killed 2 children

Ryan Mitchell caught the whole thing on camera, still suffers from PTSD

A man who was at the Kerrville airport over the weekend during a drag racing event that led to the deaths of two children and the hospitalization of eight other people is sharing his story about what he experienced and the lack of safety features at the event.

KERRVILLE, Texas – A man who was at the Kerrville airport over the weekend with his family for a drag racing event was feet away from the group of people hit by the racecar, and he caught it on video.

Two children died, and eight others were hospitalized after the crash.

The video began with Ryan Mitchell’s excited voice saying, “Ford vs. Chevy, here we go!”

He yelled, “Ford’s getting squirrely!” as the car slid out of control and began to head toward the barriers and the crowd.

The phone then dropped to the ground.

“My first instinct is to make sure my family is OK. Then I turned back around, and within the blink of an eye, the car was 10 feet in front of my face, and I was looking at the driver as he continued to slide past me. I saw the impact,” Mitchell said with a shaky voice.

Mitchell described feeling a range of emotions, including those involving PTSD, survivor’s guilt, and gratitude to be alive. Yet, he also said he feels anger and disappointment, saying he believes the tragedy was preventable.

“Absolutely. I’ve been to national NHRA drag races in Houston with a lot more powerful cars, and had there been concession stand and seating and barriers all the way down. Something could have been done,” Mitchell said.

He said the number one safety issue he saw was that the barricades ended at the finish line, where he and his family were standing.

“These cars, they’re putting all that power down at the finish line,” Mitchell said.

He was feet away from the two children killed and the group of people hospitalized. The images are burned into his mind, he says.

“This is the only time in my life I wished I was Superman,” he said. “I am very thankful to God that my family is OK and that we’re still alive and walking.”

As a father, all he can think about are the grieving families involved.

“Just as a dad, I will never be able to go have fun with my son again at anything like this. It’s just going to be PTSD. I pray for these families,” Mitchell said.

Monday, KSAT spoke with an employee at Flyin’ Diesel Performance, the company that organized the drag racing event Saturday. They said the owner is not commenting at this time.

Kerr County employees have not yet returned KSAT’s calls for comment.

The City of Kerrville spokesperson deferred comment to the Kerrville Police department, which is still investigating the crash.

Monday Kerrville PD released an update saying, “The 1990 Ford Mustang driven by Michael Gonzales began to lose control half way down the 1/8 mile track. The vehicle lost rear traction and began to slide to the left and the right on the track. The vehicle ultimately lost control, turning to the left and entering into a slide.”


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About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.