Offroad Deaths in CA with Video
August 15, 2010
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Photo: Francis Specker - AP
Saturday evening a Prerunner class truck went off course and into a crowd of people during the California 200 off-road race. Authorities and witnesses reported an unofficial eight people dead and 12 injured. "There was dust everywhere, people screaming, people running," David Conklin, an enthusiast photographer, 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. "When I got up to the vehicle I could tell that several people were trapped. There were just bodies everywhere," Conklin said. "One woman with a major head wound (was) lying in a pool of blood. Someone else was crushed beneath the car."
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.
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. Thousands of people attend the California 200, many of whom ride up the race course on their ATV, dirt bikes, and trucks. The 200 mile race offers many spectacular and breathtaking vantage points. The race had been scheduled to last through the night, as team clicked off miles enroute to the finish at mile 200.
Typical in off road racing, "There were no barriers at all," Jeff Talbott, inland division chief for the California Highway Patrol, told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. Specatators are controlled and often sections of the race are shut down if spectators cannot be corralled appropriately. Ultimately it is the decision of the spectators to watch the race despite risks. Talbott 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 AP has reported that this crash was the latest in a series of race accidents that have proven deadly to spectators. Among them a dragster accident, an illegal street race where drivers were charged with vehicular manslaughter, and another dragster accident during a fundraising event. It is important for readers to understand that these are entirely separate accidents and are not related.
Motorsport enthusiasts are grieving for those injured and the families of those killed, but also for the driver who is devastated by the accident. Motorsport is an exciting endeavor with obvious risks to drivers, spectators, and pit crews alike.
Image by Francis Specker of the AP. Click here to see the coverage from the Associated Press - which puts motorsport in a very negative light.