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$5.8-million settlement reached in deadly off-road racing crash

A $5.8-million settlement has been reached with the relatives of those killed and a dozen who were injured when a truck competing in an off-road desert race careened into a crowd of spectators, their lawyers announced Wednesday.

In the 2010 accident in the desert near Victorville, the truck, a modified Ford Ranger, went out of control during the California 200 race and went airborne, slamming into the crowd, killing eight and injuring dozens. The settlement, reached Tuesday, includes 12 of those injured. 

Lawyers said the bulk of the settlement — about $4.8 million — would be paid by the Bureau of Land Management, which failed to follow its safety procedures during the race, an internal review found. The rest would be paid by the event's organizers, Mojave Desert Racing Inc. and Mojave Desert Productions Inc., which have an insurance policy limit of $1 million.

Katherine Harvey-Lee, an attorney in the case, said in a statement that it was their hope that the settlement and safety improvements that emerged from the Bureau of Land Management's probe "will ensure these fun events can still go forward, but in a manner that is safe for all spectators and fans."

The lawsuit claimed that the race was "negligently and recklessly" overseen, and that the spectators should not have been permitted to be that close to the track.

The bureau failed in its "mandatory duty," the suit alleged, to insist that the event's organizers comply with requirements and clearly mark the race track to keep spectators from getting too close. The event was understaffed, the suit also claimed, and no emergency medical service was available, meaning it took longer than 30 minutes for emergency crews to arrive at the scene.


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