TANGENT, Ore. - Video of a jet boat that crashed into a spectator area during a race shows how quickly the tone of the event changed from a day of high speed entertainment to one of instant terror.
Fortunately, no one was seriously injured at the U.S. Sprint Boat Association race in Tangent, Ore., over the weekend but there were sure some scary moments when a boat clipped an island and went straight into the crowd at 50 to 60 miles per hour.
Now, new photos have emerged from a photographer who was there shooting the race. Brian D. Kroll with Kroll Images caught the crash frame by frame in a series of images that show in detail what happened that day. And he's sharing them with us (view the photo gallery to the left).
Kroll said he was inside the fences with another credentialed photographer, Todd Frary of Alternative-Shots.
"Todd was several yards closer to the point of impact," Kroll said in an e-mail. "As I was shooting this run, it was apparent that the boat was out of shape in the corners approaching us and I started shooting continuous frames. Once the boat left the course, my first concern was for Todd, who was nearly in line with the trajectory the boat was on. I was relieved to see he had taken evasive action."
Kroll said the track announcer did a great job warning the crowd over the public address system. "His actions prevented any serious injuries," he wrote.
"It was a perfect storm of circumstances that allowed this racing accident to occur," Kroll added in his e-mail to us. "I am very thankful that no one was seriously injured. The incident will allow organizers to learn lessons to help prevent it from occurring again, so fans can be thrilled with safe and exciting sprint boat racing for years into the future."
The course is billed as the world's largest of its kind and is visible from Interstate 5 in the Tangent area (near Albany). There have been crashes there before, but this was the first time a boat had crossed the lawn and gone through a fence in front of spectators.
"It was driver error completely," said Kyle Patrick, who built the course. "He just hit the side and he was going so fast, and we've never had a boat that fast go in to the fence."
Organizers are now taking a close look at what happened.
"Unfortunately, it's just like Nascar," Patrick said. "You've got to have something happen so you can figure out what you've got to do to fix it."