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Category: Accident

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

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

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Man, boy killed in Northern California raceway crash identified

2 Killed After Sprint Car Crash at Marysville Raceway Park

Authorities identified the two people killed in a crash at the Marysville Raceway Park in Northern California on Saturday night.

The victims -- Dale Wondergem Jr., 68, and Marcus Johnson, 14, were walking in the pits as part of a driver’s pit crew when the 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.

The California Highway Patrol and local authorities were 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.

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Two killed on 710 Freeway in Long Beach

Two people were killed early Saturday in a car crash on the southbound 710 Freeway in Long Beach that shut down a portion of the freeway for hours, authorities said.

The crash occurred about 3 a.m. near the Del Amo Boulevard exit and involved several vehicles, including a taxi, said Officer Cheyenne Quesada.

One victim was found lying in the No. 2 lane after possibly being ejected from a gray Honda Civic.

No other information was given.

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Accident at Marysville racetrack leaves 2 dead

Two spectators died after a car veered off a racetrack during warm-up laps in Marysville on Saturday evening, according to reports.

The accident happened shortly after 6 p.m. at the Marysville Raceway Park, about 40 miles north of Sacramento. A car at the track lost control and struck the two people, according to reports from media and witnesses. 

One of the victims died at the scene, and the other was later pronounced dead at a hospital, according to those reports.

Management for the track and the Yuba County Sheriff's Department could not be reached late Saturday.

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Man killed in trench collapse identified; Cal-OSHA investigating

Workers try to rescue two people from a trench in Pacific Palisades. Credit: Martha Groves / Los Angeles Times

California safety officials Friday were investigating the cause of a trench collapse in Pacific Palisades a day earlier that killed one man and injured another, a spokesman said.

Also Friday, the Los Angeles County coroner's office identified the dead man as Gilbert Vargas, 50. Emergency workers recovered his body Thursday night after about nine hours of digging in the 200 block of North Temescal Canyon Road, just north of Pacific Coast Highway.

Vargas and the unidentified injured man, who was airlifted Thursday to a hospital in stable condition, had been excavating with back hoes on a city storm water project, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Peter Melton, a spokesman for Cal-OSHA, said the agency has ordered work stopped at the site until any hazards have been resolved.

The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health has six months to complete its investigation, but Melton said Los Angeles Engineering Inc., the men's employer, "is going to want to get this taken care of as soon as possible to get back to work, if they can get back to work."

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Photo: Workers try to rescue two people Thursday from a trench in Pacific Palisades. Credit: Martha Groves / Los Angeles Times

 

 

Victims of La Canada Sport Chalet blast are making slow recovery

Emergency crews outside Sport Chalet in La Cañada on March 1. Credit: Tim Berger/Times Community News

Two weeks after a gas explosion rocked the La Cañada Flintridge Sport Chalet store, two employees who sustained severe burns in the incident are making a slow recovery.

Lauren Polzin, a 27-year-old worker injured in the blast, can't move her hands or talk, said her husband, Neil Polzin. She sustained second and third-degree burns over a large portion of her body, he said.

“I can't imagine what she's going through, stuck in a bed, in pain,” he said. “We're hoping for the best.”

On March 1, Polzin and store supervisor Victor Gonzalez, 25, were injured after they were asked to shut off a gas valve when someone reporting smelling gas, according to fire officials. The incident occurred about 10 a.m. in a utility closet near the store's pool.

Both employees were taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital immediately after the incident, but Polzin has since been transferred to another hospital. Family members declined to say which one.

Gonzalez is in stable condition at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center after suffering third-degree burns to 61% of his body, said his wife, Elsie Martinez.

“He hasn't had any complications,” Martinez said. “We're just taking it one day at a time.”

Martinez said her husband has already talked about going back to work, but doctors do not have a timeline for his recovery.

“We're not sure how long it will take,” she said. “I know he wants to go back. He loves his job.”

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Body of Pacific Palisades trench victim recovered after 9 hours

Rescuers needed over nine hours to recover the body of a construction worker who died when a dirt trench collapsed in Pacific Palisades, the Los Angeles Fire Department said
Rescuers needed over nine hours to recover the body of a construction worker who died when a dirt trench collapsed in Pacific Palisades, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

A second worker, who was buried in dirt up to his hips, survived the incident Thursday and was dug out after about 1 1/2 hours in the trench. He was taken to UCLA Medical Center in serious but stable condition.

The two men, who have not been identified, were excavating with back hoes in the 200 block of Temescal Canyon Road, near Pacific Coast Highway. They were working for a city subcontractor on a storm water project, according to the fire department.

The trench was about 20 feet long and 15 feet deep in some places. The man who died was buried up to his chest and unconscious when firefighters arrived shortly after 1:30 p.m.

More than 90 firefighters were involved in the rescue effort, which required shoring up the trench to prevent further collapse.

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Photo: Firefighters remove the body of a worker who became trapped in a trench in Pacific Palisades. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Pacific Palisades trench accident victim dies, second man rescued

Workers try to rescue two people from a trench in Pacific Palisades. Credit: Martha Groves / Los Angeles Times

One of two people who were trapped in a 15-foot trench in Pacific Palisades has died, authorities said.

The second worker in the construction project incident was rescued, an effort that lasted more than an hour after firefighters arrived on the scene.

The victims were working for a subcontractor on a storm-water treatment project at 200 Temescal Canyon Road and were excavating the trench, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The worker who was pulled alive from the trench at 2:48 p.m. was rushed by ambulance to the nearby beach, where he was met by a helicopter and airlifted to UCLA Medical Center.

Assistant Chief Kwame Cooper said the rescued worker's vital signs "are fine" and he's now listed in stable condition.

Authorities said it will take another two to three hours to extract the body of the second worker from the trench.

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Two workers trapped in Pacific Palisades trench; one rescued

Workers try to rescue a man who remains trapped in a trench in Pacific Palisades. Credit: Martha Groves / Los Angeles Times

One of two people trapped in a trench in Pacific Palisades was rescued more than an hour after firefighters were called to the scene.

The victims may be construction workers who were excavating the trench with backhoes at 200 Temescal Canyon Road, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. More than 100 firefighters were assisting in the rescue, with helicopters circling overhead as neighbors watched from hilltop homes.

Rescue workers said the men were stuck about 6 feet below ground.

One man was pulled out of the trench at 2:58 p.m. Assistant Chief Kwame Cooper said his "vitals are fine." Paramedics stabilized him and drove him by ambulance to the beach, where he was met by a helicopter and airlifted to UCLA Medical Center.

Temescal Canyon Road is closed at the accident site.

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Photo: Workers try to rescue a man who remains trapped in a trench in Pacific Palisades. Credit: Martha Groves / Los Angeles Times

Man killed in Irvine crash was well-known in local sports community

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A 65-year-old Irvine man who police say was struck and killed by a teenage driver on his way to school was an avid volunteer who was well-known in the area’s athletic community.

Rick Crowell, and his wife, Sharon Crowell, 61, were killed Tuesday morning while walking on Eastwood near the Venta Spur trail in Irvine. A Honda driven by a 17-year-old veered off the residential street and plowed into the couple, police said. The accident is still under investigation.

After the couple’s son, Casey, started at Northwood High School in 1999, Rick Crowell became a familiar fixture at football games. He became an “unofficial” staff member for the athletic department by filming football games, compiling statistics and manning the athletic program’s website, wrote Rick Curtis, Northwood High School’s head football coach in a letter.

“Rick was an amazing friend to me and needless to say, he was a role model to all of us on how to serve your community,” Curtis wrote.

Even after Crowell’s son graduated, he continued to spend hours on Saturday mornings preparing tapes and DVDs for the football coaches -- work that  was often done behind the scenes. 

“He liked all of the computer work,” said Dean Toohey, the athletic director at Northwood High. “He would spend hours doing that, sometimes all night.”

In 14 years, the only time Crowell missed filming a game was when he took his wife on a vacation for her birthday.

“The two of them were inseparable as they would be seen together throughout the community,” Curtis said in his letter.

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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