Spectators recount fatal Lebanon Valley accident

NEW LEBANON, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Racing fans at a local speedway watched in horror as a beloved annual event ended with one man’s death.

A family and community are grieving following a deadly crash at Lebanon Valley Speedway Tuesday night. It only took a moment for the cheers to die down after one of the cars flipped over, and people began to realize what they had witnessed.

It was called the “Eve of Destruction.” The goal of the race is to flip over a Winnebago motor home. That’s what another vehicle tried to do on Tuesday night.

PHOTO: Eric Garvansites
PHOTO: Eric Garvansites

However, the impact caused the motor home to rollover and collapse.

NEWS10 ABC is not showing the aftermath of the crash out of respect for the victim’s family. Shawn Rivers, 43, of Castleton, was behind the wheel of the motor home and died.

“The operator was wearing a helmet, but he did suffer massive head trauma as a result of the accident,” NYSP Capt. Michael Jankowiak said.

Rivers needed to be extricated from the vehicle and died at Albany Medical Center.

Scott Peters brought his son to the speedway for the event.

“At first I thought that maybe everything was okay,” he said. “And then when I saw the whole thing flatten out, I was, like, something is not too; something’s really awful here.”

Peters’ son captured that race and others with his cell phone.

“I didn’t really think it was, like, a big deal because everyone crashes, but once the two ambulances came out, I thought it was really bad,” Scott Peters Jr. said. “And once the ambulances came out, it was dead silence the whole time until the person said that we had to go.”

Pieces of the wreckage were still on the track Wednesday morning. Staffers said Rivers had been coming to the speedway for decades. They said he was a member of their family.

State police said they will continue to investigate, but they don’t believe any charges will follow.

The speedway declined to be interviewed. On its Facebook page, it said Lebanon Valley Speedway would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Rivers family following the unfortunate incident last evening.”

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