When we first heard that the Jim Clark Rally in Scotland was cancelled, many of the details were unclear. We knew some spectators were injured at the very least, and possibly worse. It turns out that it was much worse. Three people are dead, and six people were injured, in two separate incidents.
It's remarkable that the rally wasn't cancelled outright after the first incident, in which a rally car went off the road and hit five spectators, one of whom is now listed in serious condition in an Intensive Care Unit in Edinburgh, according to The Guardian. The Eccles stage of the rally was suspended, and the rest of the race went on as planned.
But only two hours later, another car went off the road, killing three, and leaving a fourth critically injured, making for two disparate accidents, on the same day, at the same rally, with serious consequences. Remarkably, Scotland Police Superintendent Phil O'Kane seems to be taking it in stride:
O'Kane described the rally as a "significant event", adding: "It's taken place for 44 years, it's one of the largest rallies in the UK." After the first crash the Eccles stage of the event was suspended, but the rally was only abandoned after the second incident.
The police officer said he thought the rally organising committee "would have considered it was safe to move on to the next rally stage" after the first accident.
He added: "It's the nature of the event, a rally on open roads that the public have access to. Although safety barriers are put in place there are not stewarding positions along the whole route.
"It's a high energy and a high adrenaline sport and people want to take the best positions."
O'Kane has a point, about the nature of the event encouraging spectator risks. And it might be too early to call for sweeping changes to rallying, and the manner in which fans observe it, but the fact of the matter is that three people are no longer living, and more are injured, and those deaths and injuries were, in all likelihood, preventable.
The rest of the rally remains cancelled. A statement from the Rally organizers on their Facebook page is below:
The organisers of the Jim Clark Rally would like to extend their heartfelt condolences and sympathy to all of the families and their friends who have been affected by today's tragic events.
Our thoughts are especially with those who have lost family members and to the families of the injured spectators.
All members of the organising team are in shock and are cooperating fully with Police Scotland to establish the facts.