William “Rowdy” Harrell’s life as a married man was cut short after he and his new wife were killed in a car crash on Tuesday, Nov. 24, in the Florida Keys. They had been on their honeymoon.
Harrell was a pit crew member at Hendrick Motorsports a tire carrier for NASCAR’s Alex Bowman. He and his wife, Blakley Harrell, 23, had just said “I do” at the Farm in Akron, Ala., on Nov. 21.
After the nuptials, Harrell posted a collection of photos from their big day to share with friends, not knowing these photos would be the last their loved ones would have of them.
“On behalf of my new wife and myself … I would like to thank every single person who had a hand in our special day, came to be there for it, or simply gave us well wishes,” Harrell wrote in the caption to accompany the photos on Instagram. “From the bottom of our hearts we love you all and feel how much you love us!!”
Per NBC Sports, Florida Highway Patrol’s preliminary report reveals that Harrell was driving a Toyota Corolla when he crossed over the center line on U.S. 1 (a two-lane highway) and into oncoming traffic in the southbound lane at roughly 9:40PM ET on Nov. 24. A pickup truck attempted to avoid Harrell’s car by driving onto the shoulder, but could not, and the two vehicles collided. Both Harrell and his wife were wearing seatbelts.
The 62-year-old male driver of the truck was transported to a local hospital and sustained only minor injuries. Two other individuals in that truck — a 58-year-old-female and 62-year-old female — were airlifted in critical condition.
Hendrick Motorsports issued a statement about Harrell’s passing on Wednesday (Nov. 25):
“Our entire team is absolutely devastated at the loss of Rowdy and Blakley,” says Greg Ives, who was Harrell’s crew chief for the past six seasons. “They were such positive, giving and passionate people who could not have been a more perfect match. Rowdy had an energetic and infectious personality. He was the heart and soul of our team and always kept us motivated, no matter the circumstance. Rowdy shared his love with the people around him and was loved in return. Although he will be greatly missed, his memory will continue to inspire us always. Our prayers are with Rowdy, Blakley and their wonderful family.”
Driver Alex Bowman, whom Harrell had recently worked with, also expressed his grief over the tragic loss on Twitter.
“Rowdy was everything that made the 88 team, the 88 team. The biggest personality and the best person.,” Bowman writes. “He was the happiest person you’d ever meet, and that was only reenforced by his wife Blakley.”
In addition to working as a tire carrier for Hendrick Motorsports the last eight seasons, Harrell was also a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion pit crew member with JR Motorsports.
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