Lawsuit claims negligence in death of racer

As a Mesa County sheriff’s deputy walks past police tape, Grand Junction Motor Speedway owner Darren Cook comforts a distraught woman after a fatal accident at the go-kart track in this file photo from Aug. 15, 2010.

A lawsuit filed by a Front Range couple alleges negligence on the part of numerous entities, including Grand Junction Motor Speedway and its owner, in the death of a young girl during a racing event last summer.

Jason and Tracy Duncan, the parents of 9-year-old Taybor Duncan, claim the Aug. 15 death of their daughter was a “felonious killing” as defined under Colorado law, meaning potential monetary damages awarded by a jury could be unlimited.

“Taybor Duncan had a passion for go-kart racing; she was a skilled, talented, and promising kart driver whose dream was to become the next Danica Patrick,” the lawsuit reads.

The 19-page complaint was filed Monday in Douglas County District Court. As of Wednesday, no proceedings had been scheduled in the case.

Duncan’s go-kart was taking practice laps Aug. 15 when it crested a hill moving about 50 mph and collided with a flatbed trailer, which was being hauled behind an all-terrain vehicle driven by an employee at the track. The employee was responding to assist another driver involved in an accident.

The lawsuit alleges the ATV had been obscured behind a hay bale in the moments before it entered the track, “making it impossible” to see oncoming drivers or be spotted by drivers.

Other specific claims in the lawsuit include:

Organizers created additional risk and confusion on the track that day by combining different divisions, classes and karting clubs and racing those drivers at the same time.

Organizers failed to position flaggers, or other race staff, around the track with the ability communicate with one another, warning drivers or redirecting them. Race officials were not provided with communications equipment, and staff lacked basic training in safety procedures.

Organizers failed to have required medical personnel and equipment at the track to provide immediate medical attention.

Stacey Cook, co-owner of Grand Junction Motor Speedway, said Wednesday he had not seen the lawsuit or its claims. Cook is named in the lawsuit.

“It’s very unfortunate, very sad, and there’s not much you can say,” Cook said.

The lawsuit also names the International Kart Federation, Colorado Junior Karting Club LLC, track employee Richard Talley, Colorado Junior Karting Club board of directors, along with Jay Jacobellis, Scott Hannum and Mike Weatherman. The latter three men are associated with the Colorado Junior Karting Club.


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