The tragic story of a California race track accident is making headlines in the UK Sunday. The headline in the Daily Mail read, "Race car driver, 17, hits and kills his cousin, 14, and a 68-year-old man in tragic accident as car spins out of control."
The Mail reports, "A 17-year-old race car driver accidentally struck and killed his teenage cousin and an elderly man during warm-up laps at a California raceway on Saturday."
The driver, Chase Johnson, 17, was driving the warm-up laps at the Marysville Raceway Park when his car went out of control and killed two people including Johnson’s 14 year old cousin and an unidentified 68-year-old man, the Press Democrat reported Sunday. Marysville is about 45 minutes north of Sacramento, about three hours north of San Francisco.
Johnson is from the Sonoma county town of Penngrove. He attends Petaluma High. The fatal crash happened when Johnson was driving “hot laps,” a practice routine that is a favorite among race fans. Witnesses say the accident happened when Johnson approached the first turn on the quarter-mile banked clay oval.
“It really seemed to me that something went wrong with the car because he wasn't able to make the turn,” said Steven Blakesley, the race announcer.
Johnson’s car shot off the race track ramp and into a concrete barrier upon which the victims were apparently sitting, Blakesley said.
“He went off the off-ramp at full speed, so I estimate it at 90 mph. My original concern was for Chase himself because of the impact, but I guess he was able to walk away,” the announcer said.
The 68-year-old man who was killed was declared dead on the scene. The 14-year-old boy was declared dead on the way to a hospital or at the hospital, a Yuba County Sheriff official told the Marysville Appeal-Democrat.
The paper notes that the race car track briefly put the following message on its Facebook page: Our thoughts and deepest prayers go out to everyone. Out of respect we will not elaborate on details. We ask everyone to respect each other and the families"
But the message was later removed and the Facebook page was taken down.
KXTV, the ABC station in Sacramento, reported the 14-year-old boy was Johnson's cousin.
Johnson’s Web site noted that he is a Petaluma High School senior and a fourth-generation race car driver. The YouTube video in this previous story of the teen at a championship in 2012. There was no mention on the Web site of Saturday night deadly crash that killed two. Johnson's YouTube video site is here.
A video report of the race car crash that killed 2 Saturday can be found on CBS 13's Web site here.
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