Eight killed, 12 injured in California desert race

At least eight people were killed and 12 were injured after a vehicle plowed into a crowd of spectators at a popular off-road race in Southern California, local officials said early Sunday.

Last Updated: Aug 15, 2010, 19:03 PM IST

Los Angeles: At least eight people were
killed and 12 were injured after a vehicle plowed into a crowd
of spectators at a popular off-road race in Southern
California, local officials said early Sunday.

The accident occurred at about 7:40 pm Saturday
(0240 GMT Sunday) at a race called the California 200, which
is traditionally held in Soggy Dry Lake Bed near the city of
Lucerne Valley in the Mojave Desert, the officials said.

The tragedy is being investigated by the California
Highway Patrol, which has sent its major accident
investigation team to the scene.

Local fire department supervisor Tim Franke told
reporters at least four of the injured were in serious
condition and were taken by air ambulance to nearby
trauma centers.

According to a report by KCAL 9, a Los Angeles
television station, the accident happened at the beginning of
the race, when one of the off-road trucks went off the track
from the starting line and plunged into the crowd.

The dry lake is located about 165 kilometers
northeast of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times reported the
race had been organized by Mojave Desert Racing (MDR), a
Southern California corporation headquartered in South El
Monte.

The corporate website insisted MDR organized 12
desert car races in a year for 20 different classes of
vehicles and provided "an exciting, rewarding, and
safe environment for off-road racing in four locations:

Barstow, Lucerne Valley, Ridgecrest, and Plaster City."

But KABC TV reported that amateur videos taken
during last year`s race showed off-road vehicles performing
stunts close to spectators with only plastic netting
separating them.

A flyer listed on a site indicated that fees to
enter the race ranged from USD 200 to USD 440. A total of 87
drivers were registered to take part in Saturday`s race, The
Times said.

PTI