A local sprint car racer, 24-year-old Donnie Ray Crawford III, was shot and killed by his grandfather Saturday morning.
The grandfather, Daniel Garcia, is reportedly mentally unstable. Crawford’s mother and father were in the room when Garcia fired the revolver. They tackled Garcia to the ground while the gun was still firing. In the midst of that tackle, Garcia was also shot.
Crawford’s family and friends are supporting each other through this loss. One of Crawford’s closest friends, 16-year-old Harli White, said Crawford was more than a friend, he was her hero.
On April 5th, 2008 White was 12-years-old and was driving in her first race at the I-44 Speedway in Oklahoma City. Her car caught fire, and Crawford happened to be near by and had a fire suit on. He didn’t hesitate when he reached inside her car and pulled her out with her body on fire. He smothered her on the ground and put out the flames and save her life. Years later the two became close friends.
“I don't know what made him get up and go and reach in that fire and pull me out,” said White, as she recalled that terrifying moment four years ago. “He is God's angel, and he always will be.”
When Crawford pulled White out of the burning car, he did not even know her name.
“It’s hard because knowing that he saved my life and then God took him away,” said White.
White spent Sunday morning grieving with the Crawford’s family and friends. His parents asked White to talk to the media on their behalf. She said she was honored to do it.
“They think of me as their second daughter because I am a piece of Donnie Ray because he saved my life,” said White.
Crawford was suppose to be moving into White’s family's home near The University of Oklahoma, Sunday night, to start his education at OU as a petroleum engineer on Monday. Some of his belongings are already at their house.
“He was going to be my big brother for four years, and now I’ll never get to experience that with him,” cried White.
Their third roommate is a five-week old teacup Chihuahua that Crawford fell in love with the night before he was killed.
“He took her and was like, ‘Let's go get some chicks,’ and I was like what? And he was like, 'She is a chick magnet! I can go get some chicks with her!' he was joking around”
The puppy brought some peace to Sunday morning while White was grieving with the Crawford family. She listened to his mother Jodie tell the story of how her son, Donnie Ray Crawford, was shot right in front of her and his dad. White recalled what his mother said.
“I think his plan was to kill all of us,” said White as she repeated the exact words Jodie Crawford said to her earlier that day. “And Donnie Ray happened to be in the way of him coming for me, and he was an angel again, and he saved my life, that's what she said. “He's my angel, he was before my hero, and now he really is my angel, my guardian angel.
Court records show Daniel Garcia was charged in Tulsa County with shooting with intent to kill back in 2004. He served less than a year in prison.