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Man's death raised questions about condition of road

April 24, 2001

Man's death raised questions about condition of road



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


The death of an all-terrain vehicle driver at Mountaineer Raceway motocross track Sunday morning has touched off a dispute about the safety of a road leading to the track.

Kenneth Kent Jr., 20, of Brandywine, Md., died after his four-wheel vehicle left the track at about 10:20 a.m. Sunday and he went over the handle bars and into a bank, West Virginia State Trooper E.D. Anderson said.

Kent was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, then flown to Washington County Hospital, where he died Monday.

An ambulance operated by Valley Medical, a private business with a location in Berkeley County, was on the scene. An emergency medical technician got to him quickly, Anderson said.

The race track is required to have medical personnel on hand to meet the rules of the racing associations that govern the track, said owner John Miller.

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"He had no pulse and was not breathing when we got to him," said one EMT, who said he was at the scene. "We got a pulse and breathing back. He was alive."

Kent was taken to the hospital by Berkeley County Medic 98. The ambulance had to exit on a road on which nearby residents had dug ditches to slow traffic coming into the track. The safety issue along the road is part of an ongoing dispute between the race track and its neighbors.

"When you have ruts, it's going to slow things up," said Miller. He said the condition of the road could have slowed down the ambulance getting out.

Anderson said he didn't think that was the case.

"I didn't really see anything like that out there," he said. He said the road did not slow his response to the scene.

"I'm sure it added a few minutes," the EMT said of the road. "I don't know whether it made a difference."

Luther Jacobs Jr., one of the neighbors, said the road does have some ditches, but they do little good in slowing down traffic.

"There's seven or eight dips there and they still don't pay any attention to it," he said.

The road is a private 40-foot right of way used by all the property owners in the area, Jacobs said. Miller said he is having his lawyer research the legal status of the road.

Gary Collis, director of the Berkeley County Ambulance Authority, said he has not seen the road, but will check to see if it poses a future safety hazard to emergency service workers who need to get to the track.

"From what I've been told, it does take some time to get in and out of there," he said. "It's a concern. I'll go take a look at it. But it's a private road. I don't know what we could do."

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