Jeff "Ox" Kargola Dies in the "Rip to the Tip" Motocross Race

Local motocross racer dies during off-road race

Saturday, Apr 30, 2011  |  Updated 3:14 PM PDT
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A famous motorcycle racer from San Clemente was badly injured in an off-road race from the U.S. border to the tip of Baja California, and died while waiting for a flight to a hospital.

Jeff "Ox" Kargola, 27, died at a San Felipe, B.C. hospital Friday morning, during the second day of the Desert Assassins' 2011 "Rip to the Tip" cross-desert race, reported the ESPN.com and the Orange County Register.

"I received a call at 8 a.m. and at that point he was unconscious and we were trying to coordinate a medevac lift for him," Leah Steiger, the event's coordinator, told ESPN.

"Unfortunately, his injuries were just too great, and he passed at Buen Pastor Hospital in San Felipe, Mexico early this morning," Steiger said late Friday. "Now we're just trying to get him home."

Kargola was a professional-level member of the American Freestyle Motorcross Association, established by freestyle motocross riders and industry leaders.

Rip to the Tip is an eight-day, 1,376-mile ride founded by Kargola's Metal Mulisha FMX teammate, Cameron Steele. This year's course was from Mexicali to Cabo San Lucas, Steiger told ESPN.

Kargola started riding at the age of 12 and turned pro at 16. He competed in Moto X events at the X games every from 2001 to 2010, winning a silver medal in the Best Trick Competition at the Winter X games in 2005.

Last month he won Round 2 of the 2011 series at Firebird Raceway near Chandler, Ariz.

"He was [an] all-or-nothing kind of guy, but he could also handle a bike better than just about anybody in the world," Jay Schweitzer, director of the forthcoming Metal Mulisha video "Black Friday" told ESPN.

"I can't even believe the news that he's gone. Just last week I was out shooting with him at Danimal's and he was at the top of his game, riding like I'd never see him ride before."

Kargola is survived by his sister, Christi.

Kargola's death marks the second death for the Mulisha team in just over two years. His teammate, Jeremy Lusk, a motorcyclist from San Diego, was killed after an FMX event in Costa Rica on Feb. 10, 2009.

"All AFMXA members have medevac coverage as part of their membership benefits, but medevac has to be able to stabilize you before they can get you in the air," said Steiger.

San Felipe is a resort and fishing village on the Sea of Cortez, about 90 miles south of Mexicali.

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