Police report confusion in monster truck fatality

Police report confusion in monster truck fatality
The truck that sprayed metal chunks into the crowd is seen moments before the accident. (Image submitted by KOMO News viewer Ashlee Foltz)
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - Neither the driver nor officials at a monster truck competition immediately realized anyone was hurt after debris from one of the vehicles shot into the stands, killing a boy and badly injuring a man, police reports show.

The reports obtained by The News Tribune also show there had been a problem with the remote ignition interrupter, a radio-activated device used by event officials to kill the engine, in Natural High, the truck from which the metallic debris tore loose.

The reports do not reach any conclusions about what caused the accident that left 6-year-old Sebastian Hizey dead and Eric W. Smith, 40, of Edgewood, badly injured during the Monster Jam show Jan. 16 at the Tacoma Dome.

City officials said they would not comment because the Hizey family has hired a lawyer.

According to the reports, a problem developed about 8 p.m. during a test run of Natural High, a modified Chevrolet SSR, and owner Kelvin Raymer of Watsonville, Calif., replaced the radio before the "freestyle" run later in the evening.

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

Quint had seen the truck vibrating and noticed something amiss in the rear driveshaft. Natural High rolled about 15 feet as the driveshaft came loose, and then the huge vehicle stopped, Quint told police.

He said he saw some parts fall to the ground but didn't see anything fly into the stands.

A police officer write that he and another uniformed officer were working off-duty as security and had just attended to the scene of a reported fight in the stands when they were alerted to the accidents. 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 Hizeys 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.

Quint 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 truck parts that had fallen off Natural High.

Officer Thomas White then contacted Dave Allison, event manager for Feld Motor Sports, in the press box, who said he had been told there was a mechanical problem with Natural High but was unaware of the seriousness of the incident.

Allison "was visibly shaken when I told him" and said several time that he wanted to help police in any way he could, White wrote.