Chihuahua, Mexico- Authorities are questioning the cause of a horrible accident at a Monster Truck rally in Chihuahua, Mexico that killed eight people and left 78 injured after the driver lost control. Amid the investigations, both government officials and even organizers are placing the blame on the driver while others criticize lax safety regulations and point the finger at the venue and the mayor.
Video of the rally shows hundreds of spectators gathered just feet away from the pit area where two cars were about to be crushed. As the truck, known as “Big Show” bounced over the two cars, the video footage taken by spectator Krizthall Martinez provided to the Associated Press shows the truck accelerating out of control and plowing into the crowd of spectators.
Eight people were killed and 78 were injured. Chihuahua Mayor Marco Quezada said 12 of those who were injured four in intensive care and 12 are in critical condition.
Government authorities and even organizers place the blame on the driver who they arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, NBC reported. The driver admitted to having a “few sips of beer” right before he got into his truck. His blood alcohol level was low so it is unclear if his driving was affected.
Authorities are also trying to determine if a mechanical failure caused the truck to continue accelerate after the driver has already passed out. The driver should have been able to release the gas pedal.
Spectators at the show said they saw the driver bump his head as he climbed the two vehicles. The driver said he was knocked unconscious before he ran into the large group gathered at the edge of the pit which was hardly distinguishable from the spectator areas—there is no barrier between the pit and the crowds of spectators.
The “Extreme Areoshow” was a stated sponsored event so some people are blaming Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Duarte Juarez. Meanwhile, Gov. Duarte says he is looking into whether the Civil Protection Services took steps to enforce safety regulations, though they did not clarify if putting up safety barriers is a required regulation.
Event organizers have also been criticized for allowing spectators to get so close vehicles. In a press conference, one of the event organizers said, “Crowd management is very difficult. I was there and this is a tragedy that couldn’t have been avoided.”
Experts in the motorsports industry, however say that the spectators should never have been that close to the pit.
In the U.S., monster truck rallies and other motor sports events are heavily regulated to prevent accidents like this from happening, but in Mexico, regulations appear to be lax.
Stephen Payne of Feld Entertainment, who hosts Monster Jam, told the Seattle Post Intelligencer that they leave the first several rows empty in case of a truck accident. Walls also separate the spectators from the pit.
It will take some time for authorities to find the exact cause of the truck accident. This accident may prove to be the impetus for Mexican officials to revamp their regulations to better assure the protection of consumers.