At approximately 6:00 pm on March 16th, the Yuba County Sheriff's Department received several 911 calls from the Marysville Speedway located at 1468 Simpson Lane, Marysville, CA. It was reported that a race car had left the track and collided with pedestrians resulting in injuries. Sheriff's personnel, the California Highway Patrol and emergency medical personnel responded.
Witnesses reported that there were about 6-7 winged sprint cars on the track completing their "hot laps" prior to the beginning of the race. Hot laps are warm up laps that take place prior to the start of a race. During the warm up laps, one of the cars left the track and entered the pit area. As the car entered the pit area at an undetermined speed, it struck two persons standing near each other before the car tipped on its side and came to a stop.
The driver of the car, Chase Domonic Johnson, age 17 of Penngrove, CA, was uninjured. One of the pedestrians, Dale Richard Wondergem Jr., age 68 of Grass Valley, CA was pronounced dead at the scene. The other pedestrian, Marcus Joseph Johnson, age 14, of Santa Rosa was transported to Rideout Hospital in Marysville where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. No one else was struck or injured.
Both Johnson and Wondergem were connected to race teams and had a legitimate reason to be in the pit area. None of the persons involved in the incident were employed by Marysville Speedway. Patrons of the event were never in jeopardy from the incident.
It is unknown if Wondergem and Johnson knew each other. Wondergem was described by witnesses as the owner of a race car at the track, but he was not the owner of Johnson’s car. Marcus and Chase Johnson are cousins. It was reported that Marcus was not an official member of Chase Johnson’s pit crew, his presence in the pit area is still being investigated.
The Yuba County Sheriff's Department is still investigating the incident with the valuable assistance from the California Highway Patrol. The cause of the accident is still under investigation. Autopsies on Wondergem and Marcus Johnson will be conducted on Monday or Tuesday in order to determine their cause of death.