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Death of boy, man at California raceway 'unspeakable tragedy'

March 17, 2013 |  6:39 pm
2 Killed After Sprint Car Crash at Marysville Raceway Park

The family of a boy killed during a crash at Marysville Raceway Park in Northern California on Saturday night described the accident as an "unspeakable tragedy" and thanks the public for its support.

Marcus Johnson, 14, and Dale Wondergem Jr., 68, were walking in the pits as part of a driver’s pit crew when a winged sprint car crashed into them. Johnson was the cousin of the car's driver, Chase Johnson, who was not hurt, according to the Associated Press.

“Our family has suffered an unspeakable tragedy with the passing of our precious Marcus Johnson and Dale Wondergem. There are no words to express our sorrow," Don Johnson, Marcus Johnson's uncle, said in a statement released Sunday. "Our family has been racing for four generations and loves the sport that has now brought us so much pain."

The California Highway Patrol and local authorities are investigating.

At the time of the crash, the cars were doing their warm-up laps, according to Fox 40.

Wondergem was the owner of a few cars in the race.

The crowd went quiet after the accident. “Silent. Eerily silent. There was a focused effort to try and resuscitate those two individuals,” Steven Blakesley, a race announcer, said about the scene as it unfolded.

Wondergem died at the scene. Johnson was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It was not immediately clear why the car lost control, but investigators are looking into whether mechanical problems were a factor. 

“Our thoughts and deepest prayers go out to everyone. Out of respect, we will not elaborate on details. We ask everyone to respect each other and the families,” raceway officials said in a news release.

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-- Fox 40 and a Times Staff Writer

Photo: The scene at the racetrack after the crash. Credit: Fox 40

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