Stuck Throttle Possible Cause of Deadly Racetrack Crash

Donald Roznowski
Donald Roznowski
Jeffrey Conner
Jeffrey Conner

Stuck Throttle Possible Cause of Deadly Racetrack Crash
By: Carly O'Keefe

Mt. VERNON, IL -- Two people are dead and six injured after a race car left the track and crashed into the stands at the Mount Vernon Speedway Saturday night.

According to Investigators, 38-year-old Kevin Beatiee of DuQuoin was trying to qualify his car for the race when he lost control. Beatiee tells police he believes his throttle became stuck. The car hit the concrete track wall, and vaulted up into the grandstand. The two people killed were 51-year-old Donald Roznowski and 18-year-old Jeffrey Conner, both of DuQuoin.

"Right now everyone's in shock. It's kind of hard to figure out how and why something like this could happen," said Conner's uncle John Conner.

Two families and an entire community are in disbelief after what happened Saturday night.

"I didn't know he was at the races, until they called and told me he was killed. I've never heard of a car going into the stands," said Cousin Eugene Roznowski.

Roznowski loved car races. Friends say just like the cars on the track, Roznowski was always running.

"We call him "Zoomy" because he was always on the fly. He was always going and doing so many things,"said friend and fellow DuQuoin Fire Fighter Adam Hill.

"he was a very busy guy, he was always working on something, always helping," said friend and DuQuoin Fire Assistant Chief Bob Shaw.

Roznowski was a volunteer fire fighter, and worked with a racing team on a pit crew. Sometimes he even combined those talents.

"He put his love of fire fighting with racing together, doing fire suppression on the DuQuoin Mile, or Gateway," said Hill.

18-year-old Jeffrey Conner was watching the race with Roznowski when the out-of-control race car vaulted into the grandstand.

"He was a young boy who had his future ahead of him. Jeffrey was a real good kid," said John Conner.

Conner's coaches and family say he was a gifted athlete on last year's DuQuoin High School Football Team. He graduated and was looking forward to going to college at John A. Logan Community College.

"He was doing all the right things,and the good things in life. It's too bad this had to happen to him," said John Conner.

Friends say the deaths of both men will be felt throughout DuQuoin.

"It really is a tragic loss. They were both good people. One already busy in his community, the other guy going to school next week. It's a loss for this community. It really is," Shaw said.