August 16th, 2010
10:18 PM ET

Federal agency to probe off-road race crash

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will review Saturday's off-road race crash that killed eight spectators in Southern California's Mojave Desert, a spokeswoman with the bureau's California office said.

The bureau had issued a permit to the group running the California 200, in which a truck crashed into spectators along the course in the Lucerne Valley area of San Bernardino County. In addition to those killed, four people were taken to hospitals in serious condition, and five others suffered minor to moderate injuries.

Police have said no safety barriers were in the area where the crash occurred during the race, which was part of an amateur series sanctioned by Mojave Desert Racing.

In the crash area, the course had "no delineations to where the track begins and where the track ends," said Joaquin Zubieta, a California Highway Patrol spokesman.

On MDR's website, the group asks spectators to stay 100 feet from the course. Video from the night of the crash show trucks speeding within feet of spectators.

A copy of Mojave Desert Racing's permit, e-mailed to CNN by the BLM, says the permittee "is responsible for the safety of participants and spectators at the event with respect to the race/event course," and for "confining participating vehicles to the marked event course."

Read the "special stipulations" portion of the permit

The permit also stipulates that "all persons involved in … this event are to travel 15 mph, or less, when passing within 50 feet of any social group."

The driver of the truck that crashed told investigators Sunday that he reached speeds of 45 to 50 mph as he approached the jump where he lost control and crashed, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman Mario Lopez.

MDR did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon about the crash and its rules for spectators.

The BLM's review "will cover all aspects of the event, and the program itself, as it relates to the permit," said Jan Bedrosian, spokeswoman for BLM's California state office.

The bureau also is cooperating with local and state law enforcement agencies, Bedrosian said.

Lopez said the driver will not face criminal charges. He said that California vehicle codes did not apply to the race because a permit was issued to the event's organizers, and that any safety violations would be investigated by the BLM or other agencies that handle permitted events.

The driver told investigators "he apparently lost control of the truck as it went airborne and landed," Lopez said.

– CNN's Stan Wilson, Jason Hanna and the CNN Wire staff contributed to this report.

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soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. F-TroopMom

    It's Racing people. Don't go if you don't want to get hurt. It's a risk we, as spectators, all take to see the race. I've been a race fan for 30 years and have put myself in dangerous positions at my own risk. We've already lost Rally Racing the States, don't take away this off road racing now too! You have to use your head and if you don't....I believe they call it thinning the herd.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. aeh4543

    Darwinism at its best.

    August 17, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. DESERT RAT

    I have been to many of these races, most spectators gather close to the jumps so they can catch close up pictures with thier cameras of the trucks WHEN THEY LOSE CONRTOL AND WRECK. To me this is just another case of natural selection. I do feel for the family's who have lost loved one's. But niether the race promoter or race driver should be penalized here. At these desert races there are no ticket's to buy, The course is MILES LONG. and could take the driver anywhere from 8 to 24 hours to finish. You as a spectator just drive out to the desert and hope you found a safe place to stand. The people in the accident drove to that spot BECAUSE THEY KNEW IT WAS IT WAS A GOOD SPOT FOR DANGER.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. jd

    Please blame the drunken idiots that don't have a shred of common sense. If you expect to stand right next to the road with your beer can, or camera phone in-hand, then don't be surprised when a 2-ton offroad vehicle slams into your empty head. Just look at the video – in the dark – next to the road – beer in-hand – offroad vehicle moving at 50+ mph in a jump – stupid victims. It's social darwinism at it's best. Kind of like Tila Tequila at the ICP concert.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. unknown racer

    I went through this exact spot minutes before the accident. I have raced in mexico as well as in the states. The crowd was extremely close like they are at many of the races in mexico I have participated in. However I wish the news media and our society would stop with the knee jerk reactions to unfortunate accidents such as this one. Everyone needs to stop the finger pointing and we all need to work together to make our sport safe for all involved. I have one last thing to add to all of the individuals in the news media that think that this is a sport of little or now skill . I challenge you to approach us members of the offroad community and ask us for a better understanding of the sport instead of getting your information from unknowing sources and idiots that like to flash cameras in drivers faces from only feet away as I experienced in the same section.

    August 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. SeaTurt1e

    What I'd like to know is, have there been spectator deaths at previous events? If not, that would explain the false sense of security that caused them to stand so unbelieveably close to the action at this race.

    August 19, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Obasuyi Edwin

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    January 12, 2012 at 4:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
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