Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
|For Immediate Release: |
August 18, 2010
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553
Boxer, Feinstein Press for Answers in Deadly Off-Road Accident in Mojave Desert
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA) today sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management asking for answers in the fatal accident at the California 200 Race in the Mojave Desert Saturday, which killed eight young people and left a dozen others injured.
In the letter, Senators Boxer and Feinstein ask the agency to provide information about what safety measures were in place before Saturday’s deadly crash and whether the BLM is adequately enforcing permit requirements to ensure that organizers of off-road races on public lands take the necessary precautions to protect spectators. The Senators also urge the agency to identify actions that can be taken to prevent accidents like this in the future.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “What makes this accident even more troubling is that with proper precautions, it could have been prevented.”
The full text of the letter by Senators Boxer and Feinstein is below:
August 18, 2010
The Honorable Bob Abbey
Director, Bureau of Land Management
1849 C Street NW, Room 5665
Washington DC 20240
Dear Director Abbey:
As you know, on Saturday, eight promising young people lost their lives and twelve others were injured at the California 200 race in the Mojave Desert when a truck careened off the track and slammed into the crowd. We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families. What makes this accident even more troubling is that with proper precautions, it could have been prevented.
At Saturday’s race, many spectators were just a few feet from trucks thundering past over dangerous terrain, with no guardrails for protection. Reportedly, the speed of the vehicle involved and the number of spectators present exceeded limits established in the permit issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It is unclear what medical personnel were present on site, and it took rescue crews more than half an hour to reach the remote location.
While it is important that we continue to provide opportunities for off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation on our nation’s public lands, adequate precautions must be taken to ensure that these activities are conducted safely. We request your expeditious response to the following questions, which may reveal how the BLM’s oversight of these races can be improved:
- What safety measures are specifically prescribed by the BLM in race permits, and what measures are left to the discretion of permittees?
- Were any BLM staff in attendance at the race in the Johnson Valley OHV area last Saturday? Approximately what percentage of such races are attended by BLM staff? Do the fees collected from permittees provide adequate funds to ensure oversight by the BLM?
- If BLM staff witness activities at a race that do not comply with permit requirements, how do they handle such situations? Are they authorized to take immediate enforcement actions?
- What penalties, if any, do permittees face if they violate the terms of their permits?
- Does the BLM collect any data on safety violations that have occurred in past races? If so, is this information used to reexamine and/or revise safety measures for subsequent races?
Please keep us apprised of the BLM’s ongoing investigation of last Saturday’s tragic accident and any actions the BLM identifies to improve safety measures in the future. We must learn from this horrible accident and ensure that nothing like it ever occurs again.
United States Senator
United States Senator