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Accident at California Off-Road Race Kills 8, Injures Others

Photo Credit: Francis Specker/Associated Press Photo Credit: Francis Specker/Associated Press

 

From The Valley News

ESCONDIDO, Ca. - Three men from Escondido are among the eight people killed by an out-of-control pickup truck driven by a San Marcos, Ca., man at an off-road vehicle race at a desert dry lake in San Bernardino County, the coroner's office there said today.

Two Escondido men -- Brian Allan Wolfin, 27, and Anthony Sanchez, 23 -- were pronounced dead at the scene. A third, Aaron Farkas, 25, died at Loma Linda University Medical Center near San Bernardino three hours after the crash.

The driver was identified by the California Highway Patrol as Brett M. Sloppy, who owns Misery Motorsports in San Marcos. He is a parts fabricator and welder for off-road vehicles.

On his Facebook page, the 2000 graduate of San Marcos High School wrote today that he is "So incredibly lost and devastated my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and friends involved... Thank you too all my friends for sticking with me even through these tragic times I love you all."

One of the victims, Wolfin, is the father of a 1-year-old daughter and 5- year-old son, according to the Facebook page of his mother, Karen Levitt Wolfin.

The woman, who lives in Ballwin, Mo., wrote today that her son had said "he was going to take care of me in my old age ... heart of gold ... I love him so" and "I still do not believe it."

Wolfin wrote to her friends that she was going to fly to San Diego on Monday and then travel to Victorville, where her son's body is being held by the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department.

Government records show that Brian Wolfin had two small children, and a San Diego woman named Elisa Martinez has a Facebook profile photo that shows her in an embrace with Wolfin.

Also identified as killed at the desert race were Danica Frantzich, 20, of Las Vegas; Zachary Freeman, 24, of Fillmore; Dustin Malson, 24, of Ventura; and Andrew Therrin, 22, of Riverside.

Therrin reportedly pushed two children out of the way of the careening truck, his friend said today. He was spotted the airborne truck Saturday evening at the "California 200" off-road race, an event being legally held at a state park at a dry lake in the California desert north of Big Bear.

Therrin's last act was to shove two children, including his daughter, to safety, said Derek Cox. He told a freelance video crew at the dry lake that he saw the crash that claimed Therrin and seven other people.

"I owe my son's life, as well as many others including his daughter, who was inches away from him," a distraught Cox said of his friend.

Original reports from the chaotic scene indicated that eight persons were killed and 20 injured in the Saturday twilight crash. The San Bernardino County sheriff and coroner identified seven fatalities and said the eighth person reportedly died in Riverside County, but the coroner's office there would not confirm that. Although unverified, according to a comment on the Valley News website, Michael Dickinson, age 34, from Spring Valley, Ca., was also killed in the accident.

The crash occurred when spectators clustered along an off-road vehicle race were crushed when a pickup truck went airborne and rolled. The disaster at the "California 200" race was inside the Johnson Valley Off Highway Vehicle Park, a state-run recreation area about 130 miles northeast of San Diego.

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