Crime & Justice

Land Management Bureau, organizer sued by family of California 200 race crash victim

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The family of a race spectator killed in an off-road crash in the Mojave Desert last summer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Zach Freeman, 24, was among eight people who died when an off-road racer lost control of his truck and plowed into a group of fans lined up along the desert course. The crash injured 10 other people.

Video footage of the California 200 race shows people clustered at the edge of the track, with no barriers to shield them from the all-terrain trucks that barreled past. Driver Brent Sloppy lost control of his vehicle as it cleared an incline and plunged into the crowd.

The lawsuit filed in San Diego federal court contends that lax oversight contributed to the deadly crash. It seeks unspecified damages.

The event used to draw hundreds of spectators to the Johnson Valley west of Joshua Tree. The race course was on public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The agency acknowledged last year that it failed to adhere to its own policies when it permitted and monitored the race. The lawsuit also names the driver and the race organizer.