LUCERNE VALLEY, California — A vehicle plowed into a crowd at a popular off-road race in the Southern California desert on Saturday night, killing eight people and leaving 12 wounded, authorities said.
The accident happened shortly before 8 p.m. at the California 200 race, said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman.
Bachman said 12 people were injured, several seriously. Most were airlifted from the area to Loma Linda University Hospital.
The race was held in Soggy Dry Lake Bed near the city of Lucerne Valley in the Mojave Desert, 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles.
David Conklin, a photographer covering the event for several off-road magazines, said the vehicle was among the first 20 off the line in the race, and had just gone over a jump known as "the rockpile."
Conklin said he watched the vehicle sail through the air and had turned to wait for the next one when he heard a commotion.
"I heard screaming and shouting," said Conklin, who ran toward the vehicle. "I saw one woman with a major head wound lying in a pool of blood. Someone else was crushed beneath the car."
Bachman said the California Highway Patrol is leading the investigation of the crash because it took place in an unincorporated area.