Sacto 9-1-1
March 19, 2013
Cause of deaths in Marysville raceway crash released

marysville.jpgA 68-year-old man and 14-year-old boy died of blunt-force trauma when a car at the Marysville Raceway Park crashed into the pit area Saturday afternoon.

Yuba County Sheriff-Coroner Steve Durfor released the cause of death following autopsies performed today.

Marcus Johnson, 14, died of multiple blunt force trauma to the head, chest and abdomen, and Dale Wondergem Jr. died of multiple blunt force trauma to the head and chest, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.

The crash occurred about 6 p.m. Saturday. Six to seven winged sprint cars were on the track completing their "hot laps", warm-up laps that take place before the race starts, authorities said. During the warm-up laps, one of the cars left the track, entered the pit area and struck two people standing near each other before tipping on its side and coming to a stop.

The driver of the car, Chase Domonic Johnson, 17, of Penngrove, was not injured.

Wondergem, of Grass Valley, was pronounced dead at the scene. Johnson, a Santa Rosa resident and Chase Johnson's cousin, was transported to Rideout Hospital in Marysville, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Marysville track promoter Paul Hawes said policy for raceways conducting races at this level allows minors 13 years and older in the pit areas provided they are accompanied by an adult and have a waiver signed by their parents.He said Marcus Johnson had complied with those requirements and his father was in the pit area with him when the crash occurred.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation. The Associated Press reported that the Sheriff's Department is looking into witness reports that the detachable steering wheel came off just before the car careened off the dirt tack into the pit.

PHOTO: A broken fence at Marysville Raceway Park shows the force of a sprint car that was reportedly traveling 90 miles an hour when it went out of control and fatally struck two people Saturday. Marysville Appeal-Democrat

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