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Eight Killed, 12 Injured at California off-Road Race

Phil Willon Los Angeles Times 08/16/2010 11:47
Eight Killed, 12 Injured at California off-Road Race - accident - motorsports - Sports - USA - California

Authorities said eight people were killed and dozens injured when a driver racing in the California 200 desert race in Lucerne Valley lost control of his off-roader, which went airborne and landed on top of spectators.

“He got airborne and, when he landed, rolled over straight into the spectators,’’ said Officer Joaquin Zubieta of the California Highway Patrol, the agency investigating the deadly crash. “People didn’t have much of a chance … to get out of the way.’’

Six spectators died at the scene. Nine others were airlifted to local hospitals, two of whom died later in the evening, Zubieta said.

No charges have been filed against the off-road racer, whose identity has not been released by authorities. The driver had to be escorted away from the area after the crowd “started to get rowdy. People were upset,’’ Zubieta said.

The ages of those killed ranged from early 20s to late 40s. The names were withheld pending positive identification and notification of family.

The 200-mile race, held on desolate Soggy Dry Lake on federal desert land just east of the San Bernardino Mountains, was sanctioned by Mojave Desert Racing and was part of a seven-race circuit. Off-roaders race around the 50-mile-long loop four times and hit speeds topping 60 mph.