Boy who died in motocross race apparently hit head

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2008

ANCHORAGE - A 13-year-old boy who died in a motorcycle crash at an Anchor Point motocross track apparently attempted a small jump and landed on his head.

Luke Mrugala jumped a hill and his 85cc bike overshot the landing and came down on a flat stretch instead of the hill's down slope, said Alaska State Trooper Mike Henry.

The bike fishtailed and bounced forward, he said.

Mike Arno of the Homer Racing Lions said Mrugala was wearing required safety gear, including a helmet and chest protector, plus optional equipment such as a neck brace.

Six medics and a support vehicle were at the track but were unable to revive the boy. He was pronounced dead at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer.

"We have everything here for safety that you can have," Arno said. "Obviously it's somewhat of a dangerous sport, but people are choosing to do it. It's no more dangerous than a lot of other sports."

Arno said he did not see the child crash but the track announcer told him the boy landed on his head.

Two witnesses told Henry that Mrugala overshot his landing and landed on the flat stretch with a jolt.

"My guess is that the bike landed on top of him, but I don't know for sure," Henry said.

The accident happened during a state points race. Almost 200 racers from around the state ranging from 5 to 50 years old were competing. Mrugala's parents were among the spectators, Henry said.

The Homer Racing Lions consulted with racers, club leaders and parents and decided to resume racing Sunday, Arno said.

Before competition began, racers remembered Mrugala. A minister spoke to the crowd and racers circled the track.

"That's the way they all wanted to do it," Arno said. "We talked to a lot of parents, and the big thing was they wanted their kids to know they did something in memory of their friend rather than stop racing.

"They wanted to leave on a good moment."

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