October 21, 2021

Desert Off Road Race Turns Deadly

Eight spectators were killed and at least 17 others were injured when a driver in a night-time race in the California desert lost control of his vehicle and the vehicle slammed into spectators.

“People didn’t have much of a chance to get out of the way.” said Officer Joaquin Zubieta of the California Highway Patrol commenting on the horrific accident that took place on Saturday in Soggy Dry Lake Bed near Lucerne Valley, California.

The tragedy occurred during an annual night race held in the Mohave Desert . The driver has been identified as 28 year old Brett Sloppy who was racing in his modified 2000 Ford Ranger.

At 7:40 pm local time, shortly after the race started, Sloppy failed to correctly negotiate a jump and the pick-up truck got airborne. “He landed and rolled over into the spectators” said Officer Zubieta.

Eight of the spectators, all in their 20s or 30s were killed.  Of those, seven bodies have been identified thus far. Seventeen others were injured, of which at least 6 are listed in critical condition. Fire department supervisor Tim Franke stated that 4 of the most seriously injured were flown to trauma centers by air ambulance.

Sloppy is a welder and owns a nearby motor sports company. He lost control when he was going at approximately 80 km per hour. Not found to be under the influence of alcohol, Sloppy has neither been charged nor arrested.

Angry spectators began throwing rocks and threatening Sloppy at which point he had to be escorted away from the scene. Video footage showed the white truck capsized on its roof with at least one body lying next to it.

Soggy Dry Lake Bed is about 165 km northeast of Los Angeles. Drivers complete 4 laps of the 80 km circuit at speeds approaching 100 km per hour.

The California Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate the accident.

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