An off-road vehicle crashed into a crowd seconds after flying off a jump at a race in Southern California Saturday night, leading to the deaths of eight people and wounding twelve others, authorities and witnesses said.
The accident took place shortly before 8 p.m. at the race called the California 200, said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman.
Most of those injured were serious, Bachman said. Some had been airlifted from the area to Loma Linda University Medical Center or St. Mary's Medical Center.
The race is part of a series held in Soggy Dry Lake Bed near the city of Lucerne Valley in the Mojave Desert.
A witness from the site, David Conklin, who was the 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 fly in the air, and was waiting for the next car when he heard a crash.
"I heard screaming and shouting," said Conklin. He ran towards the car then. "I saw one woman with a major head wound lying in a pool of blood. Someone else was crushed beneath the car."
Bachman said the California Highway Patrol is leading the investigation of the crash as it took place in an unincorporated area.
Tens of thousands of people attend the California 200. In it, 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 for their excitement.