Peter Lenz was barely a teenager, but he was a national champion in his class of motorcycle racing, competing at speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour. Lenz crashed during a warm up lap of the Grand Prix National Championship for children aged 12 to 18.
Stewart Aitken-Cade, a race organizer, told CBS News, "I've never seen anything like this and I hope I never see anything like this again."
Photos taken by a spectator show him right after the fall sitting on the track with hands raised in an effort to be visible to racers behind him. But a 12-year-old racer accidentally collided with him.
Aitken-Cade said, "Unfortunately one of his fellow competitors who was several positions behind him did not see him down and ran into him as he was on the track."
"Early Show" Newsreader Betty Nguyen said medical workers attempted life saving procedures but the teenager died of traumatic injuries. The other rider involved was not hurt. The crash, the first fatality in the sports nine-year history, will no doubt spark debate as to whether kids this young should be racing at such high speeds.
Hot, dry weather made the famous speedway slick, difficult to navigate for even the most seasoned riders.
Racing analyst Derek Daly said, "These drivers have skill they have talent, what they don't have at their age is knowledge and experience."
A statement released by the Lenz family said "We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss, but know that Peter is racing even faster in the sky."
On "The Early Show" Monday, two witnesses to the crash, Marcel Robitaille and his brother-in-law Richard Winter, shared what they saw.
Robitaille said he saw "something that I had wished I hadn't seen."
He explained, "Young riders were coming around turn four. And coming down the straightaway. Hit the -- one of the curbs on the right-hand side of that straightaway and went into a speed bubble and was high-sided, which was thrown over his handlebars. Initially he seemed fine. He sat up. He raised his hands so the other riders could see him. Unfortunately, he was fear the front of the pack and the rest of the pack was coming around that same corner. A couple riders, one behind each other, didn't see each other. He turned to stand up to be more visible. Unfortunately, that's when he was hit."
So has Lenz's death given the child racing world pause?
Winter told "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith, "As with any high-level sport, you need to start somewhere. You can't all of a sudden jump in with both feet at a professional level without having a great deal of training. Any parent who's ever sent their kid to football camp or hockey camp will know that if you want to be at your peak performance, when you're at your peak physical capabilities, you need to start quite young. All the riders that are riding in the top level ... have always been riding all their lives. They're well trained. They're well protected. They have very good medical staff at all facilities they go to. As with anything, have you that many people going, you know, at -- racing at a high level of competitiveness, sometimes bad things happen to good people."
Robitaille said it felt like a long time before help arrived.
He said, "I've never seen anything that tragic, you feel helpless up in the stands. So, it seems like a lifetime before -- you know, it's right in front of you. My wife is a registered nurse sitting beside me. Her first response to trauma is to react. She couldn't because of -- we were in the stands in this situation. So, I mean, it seemed like it took a long time, but, I mean in hindsight, who knows. I mean, but it -- you just felt so bad for him in that you couldn't do anything to help him yourself."