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article imageSpectator Killed in First Stage of Dakar Rally

By Christopher Szabo     Jan 3, 2010 in Sports
A spectator watching the Dakar Rally in Argentina has been killed. The accident occurred during Stage One when a four-wheel drive vehicle went off course and hit and killed the woman.
Natalia Sonia Gallardo, 28, was struck by an off-road racing vehicle that veered off the course and went into a spectator area, killing Gallardo, the New York Times Sports Briefing reports. This is the first time a fatal incident has occurred at the rally in four years.
The accident occurred despite a policy by the race organisers and Argentinian authorities aimed at protecting race watchers. An official statement on the policy given to the media by the Dakar Rally’s official website says:
On the course, the welcome of the fans will be organised on specifically designed zones, chosen for their accessibility, the interest for the spectators and their capacity to welcome them in security.
Germany's Mirco Schultis and Czech driver Ulrich Leardi were driving a 4X4 Desert Warrior truck, CNN reported.
Tomas Fragueiro, a local photojournalist told CNN:.
I was in the internal zone of the 30-kilometer curve where most reporters were standing. Security did not include the security tapes required in most races and [Gallardo] was standing outside a safety zone.
Roma of Spain won the first stage, inland from Colon to Cordoba, slightly more than two minutes ahead of his countryman Carlos Sainz. David Casteu of France finished ahead of the other bikes.
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