A motorcycle racer from San Clemente died Friday after crashing in an off-road race from the U.S. border to Cabo San Lucas, according to news reports.
Jeff "Ox" Kargola, 27, died from head injuries and internal bleeding at a San Felipe, Mexico, hospital Friday morning, during the second day of the Desert Assassins 2011 Rip to the Tip cross-desert race, ESPN.com reported.
"I received a call at 8 a.m. and at that point he was unconscious and we were trying to coordinate a medevac lift for him,'' Leah Steiger, the event's coordinator, told ESPN. "Unfortunately, his injuries were just too great, and he passed at Buen Pastor Hospital in San Felipe, Mexico,'' Steiger said late Friday.
Kargola was a professional member of the American Freestyle Motorcross Association, established by freestyle motocross riders and industry leaders.
Rip to the Tip is an eight-day, 1,376-mile ride founded by Kargola's Metal Mulisha FMX teammate, Cameron Steele. This year's course was from Mexicali to Cabo San Lucas, Steiger told ESPN.
Kargola started riding at age 12 and turned pro at 16. He competed in Moto X events at the X games from 2001 to 2010, winning a silver medal in the Best Trick Competition at the Winter X games in 2005. Last month he won Round 2 of the 2011 series at Firebird Raceway near Chandler, Ariz.
"He was [an] ... all-or-nothing kind of guy, but he could also handle a
bike better than just about anybody in the world,'' Jay Schweitzer, director
of the forthcoming Metal Mulisha video "Black Friday'' told ESPN. "I can't even believe the news that he's gone. Just last week I was out shooting with him at Danimal's and he was at the top of his game, riding like I'd never see him ride before.''
Metal Mulisha's website quoted Steele saying, "Words can't express the emotions I am feeling. I love Jeff like a son and he was riding with all of his best friends he grew up with in San Clemente.
A video posted on the race website today said Steele and other Kargola friends were dropping out of the event for at least a few days to return to the U.S.
Kargola's death marks the second fatality for the Mulisha team in about two years. His teammate Jeremy Lusk a motorcyclist from San Diego, was killed after an FMX event in Costa Rica on Feb. 10, 2009.
"All AFMXA members have medevac coverage as part of their membership
benefits, but medevac has to be able to stabilize you before they can get you
in the air,'' said Steiger.
San Felipe is a resort and fishing village on the Sea of Cortez, about
90 miles south of Mexicali.
Kargola is survived by his sister, Christi.
-- City New Service