CHP: DUI golf cart driver hits woman at Sonoma Raceway
Three crashes during this weekend’s NASCAR race didn’t involve professional drivers on the track but instead fans, including two suspected drunken drivers, one an intoxicated woman in a golf cart who hit and injured a pedestrian, the CHP said Monday.
The annual event attracted tens of thousands of spectators at the Sonoma Raceway. Thousands of them camped out for the weekend on the raceway’s property.
On Sunday evening, CHP officers arrested Bethany Garcia, 41, of Redwood City, on suspicion of DUI causing injury and booked her into Sonoma County Jail. While driving a golf cart with her young daughter in her lap, she made an unsafe turn and hit a pedestrian around 5:20 p.m. in the raceway’s Lot D, CHP Officer Marc Renspurger said.
The pedestrian, Rachel Albee, 46, of Carson City, Nevada, was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. She was treated for injuries and released, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday.
On Friday, CHP officers also arrested a Santa Rosa man suspected of DUI while speeding on his motorcycle in a parking lot of the raceway’s 50 Acres campsite. Robert Kirsch IV, 44, crashed his 2017 Monster motorcycle about 6:30 p.m. He had lost control of his bike and hit the ground because of his inebriation and traveling too fast, Renspurger said.
Kirsch, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, suffered major injuries and was taken by ambulance to Napa’s Queen of the Valley Hospital.
On Saturday night, two men in a 1946 Jeep crashed at the raceway while driving down an unpaved trail. The Jeep rolled down the embankment, seriously injuring passenger Robert Delacy, 55, of Vallejo. He was found unconscious, Renspurger said.
Delacy was airlifted to the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where he remained in critical condition Monday.
The Jeep driver, Ethan Phillip, 41, of Oroville, also was injured but refused medical treatment, Renspurger said. The CHP is investigating the crash.
Sonoma Raceway spokeswoman Diana Brennan said the amount of crashes over the weekend was not typical of NASCAR events.
“Obviously, we’re hosting a large number of people over a relatively long period, but for us this weekend it was an unusually high number,” she said.
The raceway and surrounding areas are patrolled by Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies, CHP officers and private security officers, Brennan said.
Alcohol is not served in the campground areas, and the raceway has policies in place to prevent drinking and driving, she said.
Brennan said raceway staff members are “still picking through the details of each of the incidents” and will evaluate their policies going forward to decide if they need to implement any changes.
CHP Sgt. William Bradshaw works with the raceway to evaluate their policies and will help them review the weekend’s incidents, Renspurger said.
“They work very closely together with (Bradshaw) to try to make things safer than it was this weekend,” Renspurger said.
But there may not be much law enforcement or raceway officials can do to prevent people from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, Renspurger said.
He said his agency doesn’t have jurisdiction on private property until after a crash occurs.
“I don’t know how much more can be done, especially when these things are happening at night, while people are camping out there,” he said. “A lot of it comes down to just decisions. People are making decisions to drive while intoxicated.”