Monster Truck Madness: A Look at Fan Deaths, Spectator Injuries and Current Safety
There’s just something about a monster truck show. The sounds of the trucks starting up combined with the screams from the audience as they flip, crush and race. Kids especially are avid fans of monster truck shows. They often have favorite trucks and drivers. But is attending a show like Monster Jam really a safe bet?
Death at a Monster Jam Show
Monster Jam is one of the most popular of the monster truck series and has shows that travel all over the country. Even though the machines are big and loud and the stunts they do can amaze, there have been very few problems with fan injuries or deaths at Monster Jam shows. Notable accidents in 2009 helped to improve safety standards.
January 16, 2009
A six year old boy was killed and another man was injured when what was described as a “Frisbee sized” piece of a debris flew off of one of the trucks and into the stands. According to the Associated Press the part was identified as a piece of a drive train loop and shafts.
A spokesperson for the event, Bill Easterling, said the accident “was unprecedented in his 25 years in the truck show business, including 15 years with Monster Jam.”
The whole event was described as a freak accident.
Yet just eight days later, tragedy would strike Monster Jam shows again.
January 24, 2009
This time it was not a fan but a promoter, George Eisenhart, Jr., who was killed when he stepped out in front of a monster truck near the end fo the show.
According to USA Today, the driver of the monster truck, Daniel Patrick, did not see Eisenhart and was unable to prevent the accident.
The victim had been a promoter for nearly twenty years and it is still unknown why he left the safety area and got in the way of the truck.
*Author's Note: While this was not an official Monster Jam show, this accident did influence Monster Jam in implementing new safety protocols.
Other Notable Monster Truck Show Injuries and Death
Although Monster Jam is by far the most famous, there are other monster truck shows. Here is a look at some other fan injuries and deaths that happened at events other than Monster Jams.
This list examines deaths since 1992.
- March 7, 1992
An 82 year old man was killed and eight others injured when a truck went out of control and into a stand of spectators. The man who died was credited with throwing a child out of the way of the truck before being killed.
- June 7 1992
A six year old boy was killed and thirteen spectators were injured when a monster truck jumped a row of cars and then veered into the stands.
- June 6, 1997
A teenager was killed and two others were injured when a monster truck broke through a fence near Spokane, Washington.The monster truck reportedly hit a fence and then overturned onto the spectators.
- October 17, 1998
Twelve passengers were injured, one severely, when Grave Digger overturned while doing “high speed twists and turns” with the passengers on board at Oceanfront Beach. When the truck flipped over, all passengers were held securely in place with buckles; however, one woman’s arm was pinned between the truck and the sand. She later won a multi-million dollar lawsuit for damages.
- August 9, 2007
A crowd of about 100 spectators got a big surprise while watching a monster truck perform in an auto parts store parking lot. The truck lost control, ran through a crowd, injuring nine, before crashing through a fence and onto railroad tracks behind the store.
- October 6, 2013
A Monster Truck at an air show in Mexico careened out of control and plowed through spectators, killing and injuring dozens of people. The driver was taken in for questioning as authorities were investigating what happened.
- September 28, 2014
During a demonstration in the Netherlands, a monster truck careened out of control killing three people and injuring many more. According to The Daily Mail, the truck went over several parked cars and then continued into the crowd of onlookers.
More Safety at Monster Jam
After the 2009 incident, the biggest promoter of monster truck shows, Monster Jam, made more safety improvements. According to Matt Markovich of Komonews.com, Monster Jam announced new safety measures including:
Engine restraints on trucks
Remote controlled kill switches
More rows of seats closed to spectators
Many of the deaths and injuries occur at smaller venue monster truck shows. Monster Jam’s safety record and improvements after the 2009 problems make it a safer alternative for monster truck action and motorsport fun.
Monster Truck Shows Are Fun For Kids
If you are planning on attending a monster truck show, your kid is more likely to be sunburned or suffer ear damage from the loud trucks than to be hurt by flying debris.
If you are attending a show, be sure to bring:
Money for snacks and souvenirs
Weather appropriate clothes
While any sport, especially motor sports, carry risks for their fans, the chance of death or injury at one of these events is relatively small. Use good judgment, sit safely away from the action, and enjoy the show.