CONCORD, N.C. -- Two people died and one remained in the hospital following a motorcycle wreck Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
About 5 p.m., shortly after the day-long Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration in Concord ended, two motorcycles crashed into each other on the speedway s track, Concord police said.
Three people were hurt in the collision, and all were rushed to area hospitals.
Both drivers died a short time later, police said, and the third person remained hospitalized, police said.
Alan Rochard Mockus, 66, of Alto Georgia and Thomas Franklin Hollingsworth, 71, of Piedmont, South Carolina both died in the crash. Deborah Lynn Mockus, 56, is still hospitalized.
Hollingsworth's family spoke to WYFF, the NBC station in Greenville, SC. They said he was looking forward to seeing the replica of the Vietnam War Memorial at the homecoming.
He got his bike because he wanted to ride to Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day and honor the vets at the 'wall.' So it was even more prophetic he was able to see the wall inCharlotte on Saturday, said daughter Jeannie Hollingsworth.
Pastor David Lark was with Hollingsworth when the collision happened.
We were ready to leave. Four minutes and we would've been gone. We would've been out the gate and gone, said Lark.
Adrian Parker, director of communications for the speedway, released a statement Monday afternoon:
We regret the unfortunate loss of life at the end of a great day of celebration for our Vietnam Veterans. We are cooperating fully with the Concord Police Department investigation. From our initial review, it appears that proper safety procedures regarding the motorcycle procession entry and exit were in place. Unfortunately, one reckless incident brought about a sad ending to an otherwise wonderful day of tribute for American heroes. Our most sincere, heartfelt condolences go out to the families touched by this accident.
It was unclear when the investigation would be completed.
Shawn Lane, of Willow Spring, rode his motorcycle in the event and said he observed activity he described as dangerous going on all day.
Lane, 46, who said he s been riding motorcycles for three decades, said he didn t see the collision or know the people involved
But he said some of the riders took unnecessary risks, riding along a steep, banked turn near the speedway s large high-definition television screen. Others didn t wear helmets.
And at times, Lane said, it was difficult to navigate two-way traffic along the speedway, which doesn t have lane markings.
So many folks who had never been on the track before took the liberty of driving around the track, and it s very steep in the curve, he said.
It was some poor judgment. We saw some guy up on the side of the track with no helmet, going along. You hate to judge or be critical of anything, but I m surprised the track let it go on that long.
The deaths were a sad end to a day that attracted some 62,500 people, including vets, their families, members of dozens of advocacy groups and others who just wanted to say thanks.
The free event was sponsored by the USO of North Carolina, the N.C. Association of Broadcasters and the Speedway.