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LOS ANGELES – An off-road truck plowed into a crowd moments after sailing off a jump at a race in Southern California Saturday night, killing eight people and leaving 12 injured, authorities and witnesses said.
The accident happened shortly before 8 p.m., just after the start of the race called the California 200, said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman.
Bachman said eight people died and 12 were were injured, several of them seriously. Seven ambulances and 10 emergency aircraft responded to the scene. Most of the injured were airlifted from the area to Loma Linda University Medical Center or St. Mary's Medical Center.
Officials said the driver wasn't hurt but had to flee the scene to escape angry spectators.
The 200-mile race is part of a series held in Soggy Dry Lake Bed near the city of Lucerne Valley in the Mojave Desert, 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
David Conklin, a photographer covering the event for off-road magazines, said the Prerunner truck was among the first 20 off the line in the race, and had just gone over a jump known as "the rockpile" about two miles into the race.
Conklin said he watched the vehicle sail through the air. Then Conklin turned to watch for other cars when he heard a commotion.
"I heard screaming and shouting," said Conklin, who ran toward the vehicle. "I saw one woman with a major head wound lying in a pool of blood. Someone else was crushed beneath the car."
The truck car eventually came to a rest upside down with its oversized wheels pointing toward the sky.
Tens of thousands of people attend the California 200, in which a variety of off-road vehicles take jumps and other obstacles and reach speeds up to 100 mph on the 50-mile off-road course. The race had been scheduled to last through the night.
The crowd was standing within 10 feet of the track with no guard rails separating them from the speeding vehicles.
"There were no barriers at all," Jeff Talbott, inland division chief for the California Highway Patrol, told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
He said that the driver, who wasn't named, was forced to run from the scene when the crowd grew unruly and some began throwing rocks at him. It was not clear why he lost control of the truck.
The CHP does not normally investigate crashes at organized races, but took the lead on this probe because of its scope and had set up a command center at the starting line of the race.
The federal Bureau of Land Management was assisting in the investigation.
The event was sponsored by the South El Monte-based Mojave Desert Racing. No one picked up the phone at a number listed on the group's website early Sunday, and its message mailbox was full.
The crash was the latest in a series of race accidents that have proved deadly to spectators.
A car plowed into a crowd that had gathered to watch an illegal drag race on a suburban road in Accokeek, Maryland, in February 2008, killing eight people and injuring five. The two racers were charged with vehicular manslaughter. Darren Bullock, 22, was sentenced to 15 years in prison; Tavon Taylor, 20, is awaiting trial.
In Chandler, Ariz., in February, a female spectator was killed by a tire that flew off a crashing dragster at Chandler's Firebird International Raceway for the NHRA Arizona Nationals.
In Selmer, Tennessee, a dragster went out of control and smashed into spectators during a fundraising festival in June 2007, killing six people and injuring 22. Driver Troy Critchley, 38, was convicted of misdemeanor reckless assault charges and sentenced to 18 months probation.This topic is deleted.
Well that's why God has made humans with fingers............................... I would not stand in such a spot knowing.... just knowing... one day !!! (nope not me)
Well that makes me atleast 68 fingers for perfect chewing........
mmmmmmmmmmmm FINGERS mmmmmmmmm
(as I bow my head in 3/4 shame) hehehheehheeheh
Terrible and Tragic.
Thanks for the post, M
I believe this is the Mojave Desert Racing Series. Their web site, mdrracing.com is unavailable right now.
I was trying to see if I could figure out which driver this is, but, while there are pictures of the truck, the number isn't visible - my heart goes out to him, along with the victims and their families & friends - I understand the crowd tried to attack him - he was nothing but a victim, himself - of deplorable safety conditions.
The lack of safety precautions was deplorable.
Any further updates would be appreciated.
WoW! This is truly sad. Any time you mix speed with spectators something like this can happen. No protection for the spectators with large trucks hitting jumps. That is just stupid on the part of the organization running it. Take a 10,000+ pound vehicle, put it on 4 giant basket balls, send it over jumps and see where it bounces. These trucks can roll out of control if they land on a tire wrong and pop it. Why they did not have walls in place is beyond me. Does this series run remote kill switches?
What will happen to that sport now? That series will be gone for good and someone in it will be put in jail more then likely. I will give Nascar credit for taking every step to try to insure the safety of it's fans and drivers alike.
My Prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones.
- 1 Reply to A Yahoo! User
To bad things like this happen,its exciting to be up close and watch them go by at a fast pace like they do..But...your right MoToR, why dont they put some thing (barriers) up in spots like this?
These people know the risk standing as close as they do,so why go after the drivers and attack them.They the people need to use there heads when going to these events,its a risk they all take.
Sorry for the people that lost their lives and condolence`s to there families.
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