Street racing crash leads to injuries, arrest

Smith, Richard Moore III

The driver of a Pontiac Firebird who was reportedly racing with a Mustang driver at speeds of up to 90 mph Tuesday afternoon in downtown Medford spun out of control and hit another car, injuring a man and woman before crashing into a parked car, Medford police said.

Officers responding to the crash at 5:20 p.m. at North Riverside Avenue and Austin Street found a 36-year-old woman and a 36-year-old man who had been injured in a Volkswagen Jetta when their car was hit from behind. They were taken by ambulance to Providence Medford Medical Center, where they were treated for injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.

"My car landed on another car," said the female driver of the Volkswagen, who asked not to be identified. "My head hit the steering wheel, and I think I blacked out. I don't know how my car ended up on the other car."

The driver of the Firebird, Richard Moore Smith III, 31, was arrested on two counts of third-degree assault and recklessly endangering another, as well as a charge of reckless driving. He was cited on charges of speed racing and driving with a suspended license.

The unidentified Mustang driver left the scene and could not be located.

Witnesses told investigators that Smith was driving a black 1997 Pontiac Firebird at an estimated 90 mph when he lost control. The Pontiac spun, hitting the Jetta, which also was driving north on Riverside. The Jetta wasn't involved in the race, police said.

The collision caused both cars to lose control and strike an unoccupied, parked car in the parking lot of Kids Unlimited, police said.

The driver of the Jetta said she was on her way to look at an apartment with her boyfriend, who saw the Pontiac spin out of control through the side mirror of their car.

"My boyfriend was watching them through the mirror, and he was like 'Oh, my god, he just lost control ... he's going to hit someone ... he's going to hit us!' " the woman said.

Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said the man in the Jetta injured his back and right side and broke a rib, while the woman suffered injuries to her back, ankle, hip, arm and face.

"I just remember looking over and my boyfriend was flying out of his seat," she said.

"The crash caused extensive damage to the Jetta, which was traveling at a normal rate of speed down Riverside," said Budreau. "That just shows how fast the suspect was going."

When smoke began coming out of the Jetta, the driver said she thought the gas tank might ignite.

"The way he hit us was where my gas tank was. I was screaming, telling my boyfriend we have to get out of the car," she said.

Smith, who was not injured, helped the woman's injured boyfriend out of their wrecked car, she said.

Smith was lodged in Jackson County Jail on $61,000 bail.

According to Budreau, the Mustang's driver could face charges of speed racing if identified.

"The other driver just disappeared. Nobody knows where he went. He wasn't there when we got out of the car," said the Volkswagen driver.

Police said an undercover detective had previously spotted Smith's vehicle driving recklessly in the area of Pine and Maple streets at about 1 p.m. Tuesday, and radioed other officers that the vehicle was driving recklessly in the area.

Reach reporter Mandy Valencia at 541-776-4486 or

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