Who’s at Fault for Off-Road Racing Accident?

The San Diego Union Tribune has a story today about last weekend’s tragedy at the California 200 off-road race in Lucerne Valley. Four of the eight killed were residents of San Diego County, as was the driver of the truck that veered into the crowd. Yesterday, a federal investigation was officially launched to determine how such a tragedy could occur at an organized, sponsored sporting event.

Video from the event is startling. Showing speeding trucks driving at high speeds through spectator lined dirt tracks. At times it looks like the crowd could simply reach out and touch the trucks.

“Spectators want to get close to the trucks, it’s part of the adrenaline rush. You want to see the huge tires. You want to hear the engines and get dust blown on you. It’s the closest you can get for any road race,” Sam Wilson of Rancho Bernardo told the UT.

The tragedy has raised question about the oversight provided by the Bureau of Land Management, who issued the permit for the event at Soggy Dry Lake the Mojave Desert. In its application for a permit, the Mojave Desert Racing Association estimated there would only be 200 – 300 spectators, when it was clear the race would attract five times that many. Also, questions have been raised about the BLM’s permitting process and whether it’s nothing more than a bureaucratic rubber stamp. The race has been held since 2004.

Some environmental groups believe that BLM is part of the problem and bears some responsibility for the accident. “It’s their property and they permitted it,” said Tom Budlong, a member of the Sierra Club’s desert committee told the UT. “Whatever rules they set up tend to be violated.”
The real questions should be directed at the events organizers. Watching the video, it’s stunning that spectators would be allowed to get so close to speeding trucks, without any barrier at all. Surprise is no excuse, since video from last year’s event shows the very same dangerous conditions. [Watch video around 2:30 mark]
Donations for all of the victim’s families can be made through fast-aid.org.

An memorial account has also been set up for the family of Brian Wolfin, of Escondido, who is survived by two children, ages 1 and 5. Donations can be made to US Bank, Dirty Deeds Industries, account no. 1-534-6571-1205.

Read the entire Union Tribune article here.

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