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Monster truck hits crowd: How safe are spectators?

Monster truck hits crowd at an event in Chihuahua, Mexico, killing eight people and injuring 79. What steps are taken to prevent a monster truck from hitting a crowd of spectators?

By Jose Antonio Sanchez and Ricard ChavezAssociated Press / October 7, 2013

Chihuahua, Mexico

An out-of-control monster truck shot into a crowd of spectators at a Mexican air show, killing eight people and injuring 79, officials said. The driver was detained Sunday on suspicion of manslaughter and officials said they were investigating possible safety violations in the setup of the show.

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Carlos Gonzalez, spokesman for the Chihuahua state prosecutors' office, said driver Francisco Velazquez appeared to lose control of the truck after leaping over cars it was crushing during a demonstration at the "Extreme Aeroshow" on Saturday.

Video taken from the stands by spectator Krizthall Martinez and provided to The Associated Press shows the truck making an initial pass over two cars. It then makes a second pass at higher speed, coming down sharply nose first and bouncing violently before piling straight into the crowd, which stood directly in the path of the monster truck unprotected by any wall or barrier.

The accident raises anew questions about spectator safety at monster truck events. In 2009 in Tacoma, Wash., a six-year-old boy was killed by flying debris during a monster truck show. In the same year, a monster truck promoter died in Madison, Wisc., after stepping in front of a truck.

After those accidents, the industry defended it's safety procedures. "We're inspecting every single truck before it comes on the performance space," Stephen Payne, a Feld Motor Sports spokesman told the Tampa Bay Times. "And at each and every venue that we play at, we make sure the safety buffers that we put in place are appropriate for that venue. We have people on the floor who have remote ignition interrupters, so at the first sign of a problem with one of these trucks, we can shut it down immediately. And a truck is not allowed on the floor unless it passes a test that shows that interruption works."

There is no information about whether the monster truck show in Mexico had remote ignition interrupters.

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