LINVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — A Greensboro woman is dead after a vehicle plowed into the starting area of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games‘ footrace, and a man has been charged in connection to the crash, according to a Highway Patrol news release.

Multiple people hit by vehicle before race on Grandfather Mountain (Submitted photo)
Multiple people hit by vehicle before race on Grandfather Mountain (Submitted photo)

Starting around 5 p.m Thursday, runners and spectators began filling the area around U.S. 221 and N.C. 105 in Linville for “The Bear,” a 5-mile footrace that leads up to the top of Grandfather Mountain. The race, a part of the four-day celebration of Scottish culture and the competitive spirit, was set to start at 7 p.m. It would end up canceled minutes before its start.

Julie Holderness, 72, of Greensboro, was in the crowd.

By 6:30 p.m., runners were starting to file into place even though the road was not yet closed.

Photo from someone who was attending the race shows the vehicle allegedly involved: a white van with Appalachian State University branding on the driver's side door. (Submitted photo)
Photo from someone who was attending the race shows the vehicle allegedly involved: a white van with Appalachian State University branding on the driver’s side door. (Submitted photo)

As the clock ticked down, 15 minutes left until the starting gun, Holderness stepped out to speak with someone—just as a van drove into the crowd.

Troopers say the Ford Econoline van was being driven by James Russell Deni, 80, of Boone, who was trying to drive away after being parked and accelerated into a group of pedestrians.

Deni has been charged with unsafe movement and misdemeanor death by vehicle.

The games’ organization described it as “an accident involving a vehicle and multiple pedestrians.”

Four pedestrians were involved in the incident. Two were hospitalized with leg injuries, troopers say.

The footrace was canceled, though the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games are expected to continue as planned for Friday through Sunday.

“On behalf of myself and the entire Grandfather Mountain Highland Games organization and family, we are deeply saddened by tonight’s devastating event and extend our condolences to those affected,” Grandfather Mountain Highland Games President Steve Quillin said.