GJ Motor Speedway reacts to go-kart safety doubts following fatal crash

By: Kelly Asmuth Email
By: Kelly Asmuth Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Many are now questioning whether the death of 9–year–old Taybor Duncan, killed in a go–kart crash at the Grand Junction Motor Speedway, could have been avoided. One of the co-owners of the track agreed to exclusively talk with 11 News about the fatal collision at the track.

"She had to be at just the right point at just the right time," says Stacey Cook, who owns the track with his family. Cook says in the 10 years his family has been operating the track, they've seen only two minor accidents with go–karting.

Cook says it was devastating timing. He says Taybor was racing about 45 miles per hour along a straightaway, when a recovery ATV heading to clear another go–kart, crossed her path. "The rescue vehicle, the driver, looked to make sure traffic was clear, but she was hidden behind a hay bale. And he couldn't see her because she was small...her cart was black. Her helmet was black," he says.

Taybor clipped the quad's trailer, the impact taking her life. She was laid to rest Thursday.

But high school freshman Mianna Wick, who has raced go-karts for two years, says she's not discouraged by the chilling accident. "It was definitely a one-in-a-million chance. But everything you do has risks," says Mianna.

Some argue the risk is heightened when young kids, with debatable reaction–time, travel at high–speed.

"Because you start when you're 15, it doesn't mean you're any better starting at nine years old," says Mianna's dad, Mike. Mike also says that other kid sports like football and gymnastics lead to many injuries as well.

Cook says the karting industry requires flag wavers with radios to warn drivers of accidents on the track, a regular occurrence. But he says flags were probably not waved near Taybor because the accident was clear on the other side of the track.

Safety regulators may now be considering measures like adding more crossing guards, or perhaps having all the kids just pull over in the event of a crash somewhere else on the track.

"Everybody is looking at how everything is handled, what can be changed, and to make sure that nothing can happen like this again anywhere," says Cook.

What won't change, is the love for what thousands consider a family sport.


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