Crew member at New Smyrna Speedway dies from medical episode after pit area brawl

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A crew member at New Smyrna Speedway died early Sunday from a medical episode after breaking up a fight between two race teams, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies were called to the race track shortly after midnight because of a “large altercation” involving at least a dozen people, said agency spokesman Andrew Gant.

Witnesses told investigators that Russell Crews, 59, tried to break up the scene but became involved in a fight himself.

After the crowd dispersed, Crews sat down and began having a medical episode, Gant said.

Someone performed CPR on Crews until an ambulance arrived and took him to AdventHealth New Smyrna Beach, where he later died.

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating Crews’ death but Gant said so far, there is no evidence that a specific action by someone involved in the fight caused his medical episode. An autopsy was conducted Sunday.

No one else reported injuries from the brawl, Gant said.

The incident happened during the weekend kick off of the 55th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at the speedway.

Owner Robert Hart said in a statement that the racing community is devastated after Crews’ death.

“Rusty was a true friend, always looked out for others at the racetrack, and loved racing,” he said. “I can’t describe how terrible this loss is.”