BLM Says Rules Not Followed In Off-Road Race Deaths

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said Friday its staff failed to properly monitor and prepare for an off-road race in which eight spectators were killed in the Mojave Desert.

A ranger assigned to patrol the area did not monitor the 200-mile race, and BLM staff in the Barstow, Calif., field office did not adequately prepare for the event with promoters, an internal review found .

BLM declined to name the ranger or the staff members responsible for permitting the event, citing privacy laws. Appropriate personnel actions were being taken, the agency said without specifying.

BLM Director Bob Abbey said the agency had taken steps to improve oversight of recreational events, including providing adequate staffing and requiring more oversight to ensure that its employees are complying with agency rules.

“My clear directive is: if our field offices cannot fulfill or complete all the required steps in authorizing this event, then no permit will be issued,” Abbey said in a statement.

The Aug. 14 tragedy occurred amid fans partying close to the race course.

Video posted on the Internet showed spectators standing within feet of the sand track as competitors sped over a jump. One truck smashed into the crowd and ended up on its roof.

The BLM said since the accident, it has authorized more than a dozen off-road events with appropriate law enforcement and management staff oversight. The agency said it has denied four permits “due to inadequate advance time and close adherence to permit procedure requirements.”

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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