8 Dead at US Car Race

Evastar

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8 dead, 12 hurt at off-road race in Calif. desert

By ANDREW DALTON (AP)

LOS ANGELES — An off-road truck plowed into a crowd and scattered "bodies everywhere" moments after sailing off a jump at a California race Saturday, killing eight people and leaving 12 injured, authorities and witnesses said.

The crash came shortly after the start of the 8 p.m. PDT race called the California 200, said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman.

Bachman said eight people died and 12 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.

"There was dust everywhere, people screaming, people running," David Conklin, a photographer covering the event for off-road magazines, told The Associated Press.

Conklin 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.

He said he watched the vehicle sail through the air. Then he turned to watch for other cars when he heard the commotion caused by the crash.

"When I got up to the vehicle I could tell that several people were trapped. There were just bodies everywhere," he said. "One woman with a major head wound (was) lying in a pool of blood. Someone else was crushed beneath the car."

The truck came to a rest upside down with its oversized wheels pointing toward the sky.

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.

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.

AP Radio correspondent Shirley Smith in Washington contributed to this report.

The Associated Press: 8 dead, 12 hurt at off-road race in Calif. desert
 

snp-g

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with no barriers to protect the spectators it was bound to happen. :(
 

eazi

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Sad, but if you attend an illegal motor race you are just as culpbable as the drivers.

Like them, you know the risk when you arrive.
 

thebigman

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Sad, but if you attend an illegal motor race you are just as culpbable as the drivers.

Like them, you know the risk when you arrive.

This event was an orginized event not an illegal one

thebigman
 

oneman

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This was an organised event but I got to wonder how the public officals granted a license if safey is that bad.

Reminds me of rallying back in the 80's when they had the crazy group B monsters. Up to a 1000bhp, rudementry 4wd and loose surface roads with spectators standing just a couple of feet away from cars screaming by doing over 100mph going sdieways. It all ended with there a were a couple of bad crashes killing quite a few people. Hopefully there will some leasons learnt in this US crash.
 

Evastar

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I used to marshall at Mondello and the Circuit of Ireland rally and unfortunately it's very hard to keep spectators back, they'll stand in the most dangerous and stupid of places, just so they can have a slightly better view! :(
 

stevie1ball

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Just seen the footage from the TV on ITV, must say there don't appear to be much protection for the spectators so was accident waiting to happen in my eye's.
You will always get someone trying to get as near as possible to the action, just for a buzz and the excitement.

Let's see if any lessons are learnt from this.
 

oneman

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CNN has footage of the crash. The 'track' is basically looks around 25m wide at this section and people are standing both side, mostly with beer bottles in their hands. The race organisors had been telling people to standard at least 50ft back I think but looking at the video footage there is no way of telling the difference between when the track ends and the 'kerb' begins. Also apparently the drivers first race. Apparently the circuit is 50 miles so it would be impossible to marshal the whole lot I guess.
 
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snp-g

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good post m8, the good old days of rallying. :)
 

Napster

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just seen this on channel five new's, why was they standing so close to the track thats just asking for trouble, i feel for those that died and got hurt, the race organizers need to be investigated.
 
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