Motorcycle racer and stunt rider Alex Harvill died Thursday while attempting a record-setting jump at Moses Lake, Wash.
A coroner is set to conduct an autopsy Friday to determine the cause of death (via kimatv.com).
The tragic incident unfolded at the Moses Lake Airshow, staged approximately 15 miles from Harvill’s hometown of Ephrata, Wash. He was attempting to fly over 350 feet and break the Guinness World Record for longest distance jumped from a ramp on a motorcycle. That mark was set in 2008 by Robbie Maddison, who made a 351-foot leap in his native Australia.
Harvill set a record in 2013 for longest dirt-to-dirt motorcycle ramp jump. He was measured at just over 297 feet in that stunt, performed in West Richland, Wash.
On Thursday, his crash left witnesses “traumatized,” a woman at the airshow tearfully told Spokane’s KREM. “I knew today, coming out here, there could be a chance,” she said. “I really hoped it wouldn’t.”
In a Facebook post shared before Harvill’s death was confirmed, the Moses Lake Airshow said it would contribute proceeds from his jump to his medical expenses.
Harvill’s family issued this statement (via KREM): “While this was obviously a very tragic event that unfolded, Alex was doing what he loved to do. And we thank everyone for their outpouring of support.”
According to his Instagram account, he was married in 2019 and leaves behind a wife, Jessica Harvill, and two young sons, including a baby born last month.
Harvill told the Columbia Basin Herald last month, “My entire life I’ve ridden dirt bikes and looked up to everyone that races dirt bikes, and think of those guys as heroes.”
Of legendary motorcycle stuntman Evel Knievel, who began his death-defying career at Moses Lake before passing away in 2007 at age 69, Harvill said, “It’s so awesome that I can follow in his footsteps and have some local ties to him, and just live on the daredevil motorcycle legacy of pushing the limits.”
Before the crash Thursday, Jessica Harvill told the Columbia Basin Herald that her husband had been practicing for two weeks but had yet to jump off the ramp used at the airshow.
“It’s a little scary from time to time, but you’ve gotta trust that he knows what he’s doing,” she said then. “I’ve been around it so long, it’s kind of just normal in a way, even though that sounds weird because it’s totally abnormal.”