Safety at Monster Truck Shows and Competitions
The drivers of Monster Trucks know the risks when they participate in shows and competitions. But the Monster Trucks can also be very dangerous to the spectators.
Over the years the safety barriers and safety features on the monster trucks such as kill switches have continued to improve the safety for the drivers.
Even though the safety of watching monster trucks for spectators is at an all time high, it can still be very dangerous for spectators if the promoter does not have a strong safety program in place to help ensure the safety of the spectators.
1. Natural High
In 2009 a Monster Truck show was going on at the Tacoma Dome. Something broke on one of the monster trucks and a small piece of debris flew into the audience and hit a 6 year old boy in the head. The boy died from his injuries. The boy was watching the monster truck show with his father. They were both having a lot of fun up until the accident occurred. The truck was Natural High and was performing a freestyle show for the crowd when the driveline broke and the piece of debris flew into he audience hitting the 6 year old in the head and killing him.
The debris that flew off the truck was a drive-shaft loop which was designed to keep the drive-shaft from flying off. The drive-shaft loop was a safety feature designed to protect the audience yet in this case it was the safety feature itself that killed the young monster truck fan. Because of the incidence monster truck safety technology continues to improve. Now there are monster trucks that have a “blanket” encasing the drive-shaft loop which then protects the drive-shaft in case of separation.
After the young boy died the monster truck show continued on. The event was not canceled.
2. Announcer Killed
In Madison, Wisconsin George Eisenhart was not only the announcer at the monster truck show but he was also the promoter who organized the entire event. A few hours before he was interviewed on camera where he talked about safety at the Monster truck events. The crowd was stunned and numerous videos of the accident as well as the period immediately after he got hit.
The monster truck show went on. The driver of the truck knew that he had ran something over but did not yet know that he had killed someone. It took a lot of yelling for the paramedics to get there. It was almost 15 minutes before the medics got to where Eisenhart was lying dead at. In one video it shows security laughing and watching the trucks. The audience that witnessed this tragic death was in shock. Can you imagine you family with you watching the monster truck show and then see someone get ran over and killed right in front of your eyes?
3. Lester Gilliam
In 1992 Lester Gilliam was attending a monster truck show. He witnessed an out of control monster truck heading directly towards himself and other fans in the audience. Lester picked up a 10 year old boy and threw him out of the path of the oncoming truck. Lester Gilliam died; however he saved the 10 year-old boy’s life.
The truck was “Bad Medicine” which was being driven by Don Van Loo. Van Loo took a hard bounce and when his head smacked the roll bar it knocked him unconscious with the throttle locked in place at full speed.
4. Spearmint Rhino Club
At the Spearmint Rhino Club in Dallas a man was driving his jacked up Ford Truck with super huge tires. A stripper just got off of work and was leaving the club. The intoxicated driver did not see her and drove over her with the massive tires. She died instantly. The truck was jacked up enough that it could easily be considered a “Monster Truck”.
The young lady who died was Kasey McKenzie. The driver of the monster truck was Eric Crutchfield. Crutchfield was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide and DUI.
5. Tragedy in Blackfoot
At the Southern Idaho State Fair in 1997 a Monster Truck came ripping into the arena, lost control and flipped over landing by the fence. A young spectator who was standing at the fence on the opposite side died. Riley Jo Monroe became trapped under one of the huge tires and died. Monroe was hanging on the fence with other moto-cross racers watching the Monster Truck show when the tragic accident occurred.
6. Claremore, OK
A driver crashed his monster truck and it rolled over some hay bales that were separating the monster truck racing arena from the fans. Unfortunately he still struck a few people. 1 Person died. Mike Hickerson died. The ironic thing is that Hickersen was very good friends with the driver of the monster truck that killed him.
There are many things you can do when you attend a monster truck rally to help protect yourself. Although injuries and deaths of spectators at the monster truck shows are very rare, they do still occur. When you reserve your seats get some that are up higher and not down low. In case of a freak accident where the monster truck loses control and drives up into the grandstands you will be better protected and have a chance to run away if it does continue to climb higher into the stands.
If you are at a parade or other outdoor event where a monster truck is planning on jumping some junk cars then it is vital that you stay away at a fair distance behind the truck. If the truck does go out of control and rams into the crowd then you will be safe.
Monster trucks have numerous safety features such as 3 separate “kill switches” which allow the driver to immediately cut off all power on the truck; however if the driver gets knocked out during a violent landing then there is not much else to do but hope that an accident does not occur. Most monster truck shows will have a buffer zone where the stands are blocked off and do not allow visitors to sit in.
Read more about Monster Trucks, in my article Top 10 Coolest Monster Trucks