Crash at Helena Soapbox derby sends woman to hospital

Crash at Downtown Helena Soapbox Derby sends woman to hospital
Posted at 5:20 PM, Sep 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-25 20:52:47-04

HELENA — The Downtown Helena Septemberfest Soapbox Derby was cut short Saturday when a soapbox derby car careened off the plotted course and ran into a crowd of people injuring at least two while sending one woman to the hospital.

Downtown Helena Soapbox derby crash

It is unknown the full extent of the woman's injuries at this time. Although a bystander who was assisting the paramedics that were treating the injured woman said she was going to be okay.

Mike Rooney, operations director for Downtown Helena who helped put on the event, said this was obviously not the way this event was intended to go.

"That's why we had EMTs on hand. We took every precaution to make sure that if something like that did happen, that the person could be taken care of," said Rooney. "I really hope that person is okay, and that they get their proper medical attention. That's kind of first and foremost on our mind right now."

Elaine Tuffli, who is related to people inside the Point S organization (a title sponsor of the event), was treated for minor injuries at the scene. While she was involved in the crash, she says she hopes the event comes back with the necessary changes to make it safe.

"It needs to have improvements, like maybe taller bales and stuff like that," said Tuffli.

The soapbox derby course took over 6th avenue from Cruse to Fuller avenue and was lined with small cylindrical bales of hay and metal barriers. Bystanders were standing right up against the barriers when the crash occurred and Rooney noted that would be one of the changes that will be made when the event occurs next year.

"Going forward we're going to push the barriers back. That's something that we did before. That was an oversight on our part, was just how close people were to the barrier," said Rooney. "We also aren't gonna allow pushing so that people won't be you know, gaining extra speed we're gonna have a slow start as they begin."

Following the crash, the event organizers chose to cancel the remainder of the event citing an unsafe setting without paramedics on the scene.