A vehicle ploughed into a crowd at a popular off-road race in the Southern California desert, killing eight people and leaving 12 wounded.
The accident happened shortly before 8pm yesterday at the California 200 race, said San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman.
She said 12 people were injured, several seriously. Most were airlifted from the area to Loma Linda University Hospital.
The race was held in Soggy Dry Lake Bed near the city of Lucerne Valley in the Mojave Desert, 100 miles (160km) north-east of Los Angeles.
David Conklin, a photographer covering the event for several off-road magazines, said the vehicle was among the first 20 off the line in the race, and had just gone over a jump known as “the rockpile”.
Conklin said he watched the vehicle sail through the air and had turned to wait for the next one when he heard a commotion.
“I heard screaming and shouting,” said Conklin, who ran toward the vehicle. “I saw one woman with a major head wound lying in a pool of blood. Someone else was crushed beneath the car.”
Tens of thousands of people attend the California 200, in which dune buggy-style vehicles take jumps and other obstacles on the off-road course. The crowd gathers next to the track with little or no barrier between them and the vehicles.