The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department now confirms eight people were killed and many others were injured in a desert off-road race east of Lucerne Valley in San Bernardino County, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department.
At least seven of those killed were in their 20s, including 24-year-old Zachary Freeman of Fillmore, according to the San Bernardino County coroner.
A truck rolled and struck several people in the area, according investigators.
San Bernardino fire sent seven ambulances and 10 air ships to the scene of the accident.
The California Highway Patrol responded to the site near Bessemer Mine Road at Soggy Dry Lake in the Lucerne Valley area of San Bernardino County.
“There was dust everywhere, people screaming, people running,” David Conklin, a photographer covering the event for off-road magazines, told The Associated Press.
Conklin said the Prerunner truck was among the first 20 off the line in the race, and had just gone over a jump known as “the rockpile” about two miles into the race.
He said he watched the vehicle sail through the air. Then he turned to watch for other cars when he heard the 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.”
The truck came to a rest upside down with its oversized wheels pointing toward the sky.
Officials said the driver wasn’t hurt but had to flee the scene to escape angry spectators.
Victims who were injured in the accident have been taken to St. Mary’s and Victor Valley Hospitals, according to the CHP. Many others were taken to Loma Linda Medical Center, where some have already been discharged.
The race was an annual California 200 event in the Lucerne Valley drawing pickup truck racers from all over California.
Followers of News Channel 3 on Twitter expressed their thoughts and prayers of the victims of those people who were in the crowd watching the annual event who may have been in the path of the truck which reportedly went out of control.
One follower posted, “RIP to the people who lost their life JUST 40 minutes ago at the MDR Night Offroad Race in Lucerne…”
Another alerted friends and said, “major accident at MDR Lucerne offroad truck race.”
One person who watched as the accident happened e-mailed KESQ and said, “We were sitting there watching the cars approach when all of a sudden, this one car comes straight at us, like he wanted to hit us. His car was going around 70 MPH and it was over in seconds. People were crying and screaming; there was nothing we could do.
“Bodies were all over with people trying to help, but it was too late. It was obvious that some had terrible injuries and wouldn’t survive. I tried to help where I could but it was no help, the damage was done. We picked people out of the pile and carried them to the area where all the injured where in rows. People were dying and we couldn’t do anything, anything at all! It took the emergency services forever to arrive. We did what we could but it was only futile. Some died as we sat there and talked to them and others just cried in pain. It was terrible just terrible!
Stay with KESQ.com and News Channel 3 for more on this developing story.