Monster truck official didn't see debris in stands

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - After debris flew off a monster truck and hit two spectators, killing a 6-year-old boy, neither the driver nor competition officials knew the debris had landed in the stands and didn't realize anyone was hurt, police reports show.

The driver, 21-year-old Gary Schott Jr., told investigators he felt a vibration as the modified Chevrolet SSR truck came off a jump, then saw event official Robert Quint waving at him and felt the truck lose power.

Quint had seen the truck vibrating and noticed something amiss in the rear driveshaft. The truck rolled about 15 feet as the driveshaft came loose, and then the huge vehicle stopped, Quint told police in reports obtained by The News Tribune.

Quint said he saw some parts fall to the ground but didn't see anything fly into the stands. He said he was on the floor of the stadium when someone threw down a piece of metal, which he picked up and kept with other parts that had fallen off the truck, Natural High.

The reports do not reach any conclusions about what caused the accident that killed Sebastian Hizey, of Puyallup, and badly injured Eric W. Smith, 40, of Edgewood, during the Monster Jam show Jan. 16 at the Tacoma Dome.

City officials told the newspaper they would not comment because the Hizey family has hired a lawyer. The city owns the Tacoma Dome.

The reports also show the truck had an earlier problem with the remote ignition interrupter, a radio-activated device used by event officials to kill the engine.

The problem developed during a test run of Natural High, and truck owner Kelvin Raymer, of Watsonville, Calif., replaced the radio before the "freestyle" run later in the evening.

A police officer wrote in the reports that he and a second officer were working off-duty as security and had just responded to the scene of a reported fight in the stands when they were alerted to the accident.

Initially, he wrote, they thought they were responding to another fight but found the two badly injured spectators.

Witnesses said a piece of metal ricocheted off Hizey's head and hit Smith. The area was filled with people and the continuing roar of the truck engines made communication "next to impossible," Officer Scott Newbold wrote.

Bill Easterling, senior operations director for Feld Motor Sports, of Aurora, Ill., told The Associated Press last month that police were examining the truck's drive train and drive train loop, a special monster truck device that is supposed to hold the drive train on the vehicle.

He said he could give no further details or description of the loose parts, including where they were found.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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