California Boy Killed in Baja 500 Race

The driver of the truck that struck the 8-year-old boy said he's devastated

A Southern California boy was killed and his mother was hospitalized when a truck racing in the Baja 500 drove off the course in downtown Ensenada.

The crash occurred just after 10:30 a.m. Saturday at a spot in the famous off-roading course, reports.

Screams can be heard from the crowd as the truck turns a corner and then drives along the edge of a hillside only to then continue down the hill into a crowd below.

Eight-year old Xander Hendricks, from San Clemente was killed. His mother, 28-year-old Melissa Hendricks, suffered head and leg injuries but is back in the United States.

NBC Los Angeles went to a San Clemente home connected to the victims. A family member would not talk about the crash.

The driver of the truck, identified by race organizers as a Utah man, issued a statement.

"I'm devastated by the tragic accident that happened this weekend. My heart goes out to the family at this time,” said Todd Pedersen of Orem, Utah.

Race organizers said Pedersen struck three spectators while negotiating a turn entering an area called the Ensenada wash.

Authorities recognized that it was an accident. No charges were filed.

Pedersen is the CEO of a Utah-based company, Vivint, Inc., the Salt Lake Tribune reported Sunday.

The news report said the victims were standing outside the restricted area for spectators.

Bloggers covering the event also reported the victims in the crash were standing in an unsafe area.

The Baja 500 has been running for 48 years. The competition has held its start and finish lines in the city of Ensenada dozens of times.

Score International, Off-Road racing, the company that organizes the annual event, publishes information for fans on their Spectator Safety Guidelines page.

Because vehicles can easily reach speeds of over 100 mph, spectators are advised to stay at least 100 feet from the course at all times.

“Children under the age of 16 and infants should ALWAYS be accompanied by adults who are responsible for their behavior,” the site states. “At no time should adults allow children to play within 100 feet (30 meters) feet of the race course.”

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