Safety official killed at Davis demolition derby

Thursday , August 14, 2014 - 5:46 PM

Standard-Examiner staff

FARMINGTON — A hush fell over the crowd of spectators, who recently had been cheering, after an awful accident occurred. It led to one man’s death during a demolition derby at the Davis County Fair on Wednesday night. 

Bren Ewing, 41, of Hooper was a member of the safety staff overseeing the event, according to the Davis County Sheriff’s Office.

One of the participating vehicles reportedly rolled over after being hit, according to a release from authorities. Ewing ran over to the disabled vehicle to check on the driver; however, the car shifted weight and rolled on top of him.

Emergency responders were able to free Ewing from beneath the vehicle and prepare him to be flown to McKay-Dee Hospital. He died at the hospital.

Sue Huber, a spectator at the derby said everyone was aghast at what had just unfolded.

“There were thousands of people and they all just gasped,” she said of what transpired after the accident. “He was just trying to help someone out.”

Huber said a large number of people gathered around the car to flip it over and off of Ewing.

County Commissioner John Petroff Jr., who has been responsible for the county fair demolition derby for the past six years, said this is the worst accident he has seen at the fair. 

“I don’t remember anything serious, not even a broken arm,” Petroff said. “Those cars are beefed up. The drivers put cages inside to keep them safe and secure. I’ve never known anyone to get hurt before. My biggest worry has been what if a car catches on fire, but they don’t even carry large amounts of fuel.”

Petroff said it was an unfortunate accident, and his thoughts and sympathy go to Ewing’s family.

Dale Trease, a promoter for the event and 30-year demolition derby veteran, witnessed the incident, which he said was a terrible accident.

“Safety is important. No one comes out expecting to get hurt or to hurt someone else,” Trease told the Standard-Examiner, pointing out that paramedics and safety officials were all around the event, ready to help.

Trease said no one could have predicted what happened to Ewing, who he said put himself in harm’s way to help a fellow derby driver who he thought was in danger.

“There’s no way you could go out of this life in any greater glory than when trying to help your fellow man,” he said.

Trease knew Ewing as a strong enthusiast of the sport, with many friends who cared for him.

“It’s a sport with a certain amount of risk, like any other,” he said.

Ewing’s family released a statement regarding the death of their beloved husband and father.

“He was a gentle, kind, generous and very forgiving man who has spent the past 15 years participating in demolition derbies across the country. He was loved by all those who knew him.”

Ewing is survived by his wife, Danyel, six children, one grandchild and one grandchild expected to be born by the end of the month. 

“The accident was a tragic incident. The family is asking the media and the public to respect their privacy and give them time to grieve.”

Intrepid Motorsports, the company that organized the derby, declined to comment Thursday morning. The Roy-based company coordinates several local demolition derbies, including the ones at the Weber County Fair and the Utah State Fair.

An investigation into the accident is ongoing.

This is the second fatality at a demolition derby in Utah this year. In early July at a Millard County derby, 50-year-old Robert Steele, of Nephi, was killed when a vehicle was launched over the safety berm and hit him. He was also a safety official for the event.

At the Weber County Fair on Saturday, a bystander suffered a leg injury after a derby car crashed into a barrier.

Donations to the Ewing family are being accepted at American First Credit Union (Account #9068321) and on the Bren Ewing Memorial Fund website.

Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227 or Follow him on Twitter at @SE_Andreas.

Reporters Morgan Briesmaster, Loretta Park and Cimaron Neugebauer contributed to this article.

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