Auto community rallies for men killed in Dragon crash

Around 80 drivers rallied on Saturday to remember two men who died in a crash on the stretch of U.S. 129 known as The Dragon.

BLOUNT COUNTY - Over 80 drivers rallied on Saturday to remember two men who died in a crash on the stretch of U.S. 129 known as The Dragon.

19-year-old Tanner Umphrey and 23-year-old Kyle Moroney died June 3 when Moroney's Nissan 370z went off the road and down an embankment.

"That was his dream car," Kyle's mother Deb Moroney said. "It was like he was one with that car."

The Moroney's say that the support of the car enthusiast community has helped them in their grief.

"It's been overwhelming, it's been tremendous," Kyle's father Roger Moroney said. "There are some dark moments, there's some pain, but we try to hold on to the memory and all the people he's helped."

People who knew Moroney say his smile was infectious and his positive attitude was refreshing.

Darryl Cannon founded Killboy, a motor sports photography company. Moroney was a regular at Deal's Gap and Cannon came to know him well.

"He was just a really good addition to our group," Cannon said. "he was just an upbeat, positive person - something you take for granted until you look back on it and realize how much he laughed, smiled, and never complained hardly."

Street signs saying "Cruise for Kyle and Tanner" were made for the event. Many cars had decals that say "Kyle Moroney likes this."

"He was kind of famous for liking every post that anyone posted on Facebook," Cannon said. "Everyone took it for granted or laughed about it and now looking back, we realize he was just doing what little bit he could to let you know that he was thinking about you."

Moroney's accident differs from most crashes on "The Dragon." The Blount County Sheriff's Office says that most serious injuries on the road occur with drivers from out of state.

RELATED: BCSO revs up enforcement on 'The Dragon'

In his more than 14 years photographing activity on "The Dragon," Cannon has seen countless crashes.

 "A lot of the accidents we see are people just wild, driving all over the road and it ends up catching up to them eventually," Canon said. "In this case you had someone that was an unusually clean, disciplined driver."

Cannon says drivers can learn from Moroney's patience and focus on the road, but his personality is what leaves the biggest mark.

"He's just somebody I aspire to be more like," Cannon said. 

Saturday's ride showed that the two men left a lasting legacy on the car enthusiast community.

"As many times as you drive up in those mountain you'll always remember," Deb Moroney said. "You'll always remember that tree or remember that corner, but it will be a happy thought because you know that they did it with love and that was truly where they wanted to be."

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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