Park City An 18-year-old high school student was killed Sunday afternoon when she lost control of her converted Ford Mustang at 81 Speedway and crashed into a wall during a race.
Amey Cohoon, a senior at Heights High School in Wichita, was racing in the Junior Hornet league, which is limited to racers ages 15 through 17 and those who turn 18 during the racing season.
"We all knew this girl was in trouble," said witness Robert Goss, who was in the pits at the center of the track when he heard the crash.
Cohoon likely died from head trauma, Park City police officer Keith Goodall said. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the official cause of death, he said.
She was wearing a helmet when she crashed, witnesses said.
Drivers and other witnesses said they have seen drivers walk away from crashes far worse than Cohoon's, and likened it to NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt's death after crashing into the wall on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
"I've seen people bounce off these walls and walk away fine," Goss said.
Speedway General Manager C. Ray Hall said Cohoon had been racing for about two years and noted that her brother also was racing Sunday when the crash occurred.
She is the first driver to be killed at the Wichita-area track since 1998, when 35-year-old Brian Rasmussen crashed into a dirt embankment. Before that, the most recent fatal crash was in 1979.
"I've been to other race tracks, and I feel a lot safer out here," said rookie driver Lacey Shipman, 23, who flipped her car the previous weekend at the track and was trapped for 45 minutes.
Hall said five certified EMS and fire personnel employed by the track attend each race.
"They did everything," Goss said. "They tried. I just think after it happened, it was too late."