VIRGINIA CITY -- Two people were killed Saturday when their vehicle plunged 250 feet over the edge of the Virginia City truck route during a car rally practice run.
The victims were identified as driver Patrick Jemison, 42, of Incline Village, and his passenger, Virginia Davis, 43, of Show Low, Ariz.
Officials said the accident occurred at 10:22 a.m. when Jemison misjudged a corner and went over an embankment at moderate speed, clipped a tree, then landed 250 feet down a slope, according to Storey County Sheriff's spokesman John Tyson.
Jemison, driving the Viper, and Davis were trapped in the car as it tumbled down the hill.
By the time it came to rest, the Viper was unrecognizable and both people had to be cut from the car. The race was stopped and the road was closed for four hours while rescue personnel pulled the victims from the Viper.
Neither of them was wearing seatbelts, but because they weren't thrown from the vehicle, it appears seatbelts would not have helped protect the victims, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.
Both the Patrol and Storey County firefighters responded to the accident.
Dean Benz, chairman of Audi Club International which organizes the event, said it is very rare for a fatal accident to occur during the race.
"Accidents like this are extremely rare," he said. "We've only had three fatalities in this race. The last accident was in the early 1980s."
Tyson confirmed it has been some time since the last accident.
"We all understand the risks and as a racing family we feel the loss deeply," Benz said. "We belive the participants would have wished us to go on and continue the race and hope the communities will consent to it."
Benz said racers have experience on closed and road courses like Thunderhill and Sears Point.
This is the 31st Virginia City Hill Climb, which follows Alternate Highway 341 from Silver City to Virginia City. The road has an elevation climb of 1,210 feet, 20 turns and a cliff area.