Fatality in alleged drag race: Oakland man, 21 dies after car flips over.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Author: Janine Defao
Date: July 3, 2001

A 21-year-old Oakland man died last night when his car flipped over -- the latest victim of the popular but dangerous sport of illegal street racing.

"It's extremely dangerous, and it's unpredictable," Oakland police spokesman George Phillips said today. "Some of these cars reach speeds of up to 100 mph, and in most cases, it usually results in instant death."

Police said Brian Chuong was one of three drivers who met on Middle Harbor Road in West Oakland, a spot where a small group of drag racers has been active for more than six months.

Chuong lost control of his 1991 Toyota MR2 on a sharp curve near Adeline Street, and the car rolled and landed on its roof. Friends took him to to Summit Medical Center in Oakland at about 11:30 p.m., with severe head and facial injuries, where he died a short time later.

Phillips said a teenage girl in the car was not injured. There were other witnesses to the crash, including several people who had gathered to watch and cheer the racers, he said.

Investigators had leads on the other cars involved and their drivers but were not releasing the information this morning.

Police had not determined whether Chuong knew the other drivers, but Phillips said racing at that spot "has been a planned activity" in the past.

Others involved in the race could face charges of vehicular manslaughter, he said.

Street racing had claimed the lives of two young men in the Bay Area since April.

Sergey Shatsman, 19, was killed April 11, when the car in which he was a passenger ran a stop sign and was broadsided by a Muni streetcar in San Francisco's outer Sunset District. Shatsman was in one of three cars, all driven by friends, involved in the race. The car's 16-year-old driver suffered several fractures, and the Muni driver was also injured.

Four days later, Daniel Emery Tobin, also 19, was killed in San Jose while racing his Ford Mustang against another car on Blossom Hill Road. Tobin lost control and slammed into a pole, tearing the car in half and ejecting the teenager onto the roadway.

Police also initially believed a fatal crash in Union City on June 21 involved drag racing but later determined that while one of the drivers was speeding, he was not racing another car.

Despite its dangers, police say illegal street racing heats up every year with the weather, as thrill-seeking young men attempt to show off their cars, and bravado.