Just minutes into the start of the Baja 500, driver Todd Pederson rolled off the race course and plowed into a crowd of spectators, killing an 8-year-old boy and injuring his mother. Two drivers also died in unrelated incidents during the race.

Pederson’s accident happened just as he was turning off the pavement in downtown Ensenada and onto the sand, at a place known as The Wash. He had tried to avoid another group of spectators when the incident occurred.

The Wash is a hard turn and deep drop into the dry riverbed, which is where drivers accelerate to racing speed and open up for the 500-mile contest. It has always been an extremely popular as well as dangerous place to watch the race, and Baja race fans are notoriously reckless when it comes to proximity to the trucks.

Many stand at the outside corners of turns, taking huge risks for injury or death. Many locals will go so far as to create obstacles, such as flooding a corner, just to watch the trucks hydroplane as they roar past.

The boy’s name was not released, and neither are the driver’s names, but we do know the boy was from Orange County, California.

The vehicle that lost control was a standard trophy truck, essentially a Chevy Silverado, built by Space Monkey and owned by Mike Cook out of Provo, Utah. Trophy trucks represent the fastest and generally most elite level of desert racing in Baja. Basically, it’s a steel frame bolted to a massive engine, so the kinetic energy is something to be feared and respected.

Photo credit: Wikimedia