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Steering Wheel May Have Played Role In Fatal NorCal Raceway Crash

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Race Crash Investigation

Investigators at Marysville Raceway Park. (CBS)

MARYSVILLE, Yuba County (CBS SF) — The Yuba County Sheriff’s Office is investigating why a race car crashed and killed a Sonoma County teen at the Marysville Raceway Park Saturday evening.

Marcus Johnson, 14, and 68-year-old Dale Richard Wondergem Jr. of Grass Valley died after a race car driven by Johnson’s 17-year-old cousin, Chase Johnson of Penngrove, left the track and crashed in the pit area of the raceway in Marysville.

Wondergem died at the scene and Marcus Johnson died soon after he his arrived at Rideout Hospital in Marysville.

Yuba County Undersheriff Jerry Read said the investigation will include the possibility the steering wheel in Chad Johnson’s car became disconnected, and that the car was traveling around 90 mph when it entered the pit area around 6 p.m.

Cousins Marcus and Chase Johnson

Cousins Marcus and Chase Johnson (Family Photo)

“We have the car and we’ll examine it. No one has reported seeing the disconnected steering wheel in his (Chase Johnson’s) hands,” Read said Monday afternoon.

Read also said, “We don’t know how fast the car was going.”

Wondergem owned one of the race cars at the track but not the one Chase Johnson was driving, Read said.

Chase Johnson was not injured in the crash that happened as the drivers of six or seven winged race cars were completing their “hot”, or warm-up laps before the race.

Johnson’s car tipped onto its side and stopped after it hit Marcus Johnson and Wondergem who were standing near each other, Read said.

It was reported that Marcus Johnson was not an official member of Chase Johnson’s pit crew, and his presence in the pit area is still being investigated, Read said.

The racetrack was hosting its Battle of Marysville for the sprint cars Saturday. The race is part of the California Sprint Car Civil War Series.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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