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Motorcycle racer dies after crash at raceway

A 27-year-old Seattle man was killed Sunday after his motorcycle crashed during an event at Spokane County Raceway, officials confirmed Tuesday.

The Spokane Medical Examiner identified the man as Khalil Mohmed, who died as a result of a skull fracture from a blunt impact to the head.

Mohmed was a novice racer with the Washington Motorcycle Road Racing Association (WMRRA), based on the west side of the state.

The organization rented the Airway Heights facility owned by Spokane County, and sponsored two days of racing events, said Cindy Gibbs, general manager. Gibbs works for a Raceway Investments, who has a contract with the county to oversee race track operations. Sunday’s race was not sanctioned by the race track, she said.

“We are very saddened about what happened. There is an inherent risk that all drivers take when they race,” Gibbs said. “They understand this risk … it is part of racing and it never gets any easier.”

Gibbs said it appeared Mohmed lost control of his motorcycle on turn nine of the road course. She said all details about the crash needed to be directed through WMRRA President Nico Tomacelli, who didn’t return a phone call Tuesday.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Detective Dave Thornburg said law enforcement was not called or notified about the death, likely because the race track’s new management was unaware that they should do so. He said the sheriff’s office has a duty to investigate all deaths that occur in the county, outside of health care facilities, to insure circumstances surrounding the death are recorded.

Raceway Investments took over operations at the track in April, from previous operator Bucky Austin and Austin Motorsports Management.

“Nobody is in trouble,” Thornberg said, “but, if there is a death or a serious injury with the likelihood of death, we need to be notified.”

Thornburg said because evidence is long gone, the Sheriff’s Office will not be looking into the accident.

Gibbs said Mohmed was still breathing when he left the raceway, stabilized on scene by emergency crews and the Airway Heights Fire Department before he was transported to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he later died.

Thornburg said racetrack officials notified Doug Chase, Spokane County Parks and Recreation director, and Spokane County risk management officials, but not until Monday.

“We did everything that we were required to do,” Gibbs said.

Sunday’s death is the first since May 2009, when a race car slammed into a 68-year-old Post Falls asphalt contractor who was at the track to discuss a bid for construction work.

Bob L. Arndt was killed after a driver taking laps on the road course lost control and struck the man as he walked across the south end of the track.

A lawsuit filed by Arndt’s wife, Mary H. Arndt, against the county, the previous racetrack operators, and several others is still pending.

In June, commissioners agreed — in a 2-1 vote — to add $588,500 to taxpayer spending already approved for improvements at the racetrack, bringing the total to $1.1 million. The improvements would eliminate the need to cross the road course to get to the raceway office, and it would separate the road course from the drag strip, previous reports stated.

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