A powerful truck, competing in the California 200 desert race in the Mojave Desert, smashed into dozens of unsuspecting onlookers, killing eight people and injuring dozens more.
From initial reports, the still-unnamed driver of the truck lost control of his offroad vehicle when it went airborne and landed on top of spectators who had come to witness a rugged competition that began at 8 p.m. in the Lucerne Valley.
"He got airborne and, when he landed, rolled over straight into the spectators,'' said Officer Joaquin Zubieta of the California Highway Patrol. "People didn't have much of a chance ... to get out of the way.''
The Lucerne Valley is located in the Mojave Desert about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. Racers make four loops on a 50-mile offroad track. Speeds can reach up to 60 mph.
According to Zubieta, six individuals died at the scene. Others were airlifted to local hospitals like Loma Linda Medical Center. Two people died later in the evening. Because of the remote location of the race, it took emergency personnel 30 minutes to reach the victims, who watched from a section known as "the rock pile." Despite the chaos, witnesses say spectators who weren't injured tended to those who were.
"There was dust everywhere, people screaming, people running," David Conklin, a photographer covering the event for off-road magazines, told The Associated Press.
Conklin, who was in position to capture trucks launching off a large jump, said he watched the Prerunner truck fly through the air. He looked for other vehicles when he heard the massive commotion caused by the crash.
"When I got up to the vehicle I could tell that several people were trapped. There were just bodies everywhere," he said. "One woman with a major head wound (was) lying in a pool of blood. Someone else was crushed beneath the car."
No charges have been filed against the off-road racer.