List of Dakar Rally fatal accidents

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This is a list of Dakar Rally fatal accidents involving both competitors and non-competitors who have died during a Dakar Rally event.

Since 1979, 70 people are known to have died as a result of the Dakar rally. Among the 28 competitor fatalities, 19 were motorcycle related, 6 car related, 1 truck related, and 2 competitors died as a result of local rebel conflict. Up to 1992, collision was the most common cause of death among competitors.

Among the 42 non-competitor fatalities are those of the race's founder Thierry Sabine, 14 news journalists and support crew, 23 spectators, and 4 children.

The Dakar Rally has received criticism because of its high mortality rates, with the Vatican Paper describing the event as "the bloody race of irresponsibility".[1] The event received particular criticism in the 1988 race, when three Africans were killed in collisions with vehicles involved in the race. PANA, a Dakar-based news agency, wrote that the deaths were "insignificant for the [race's] organizers".[2] The Dakar organizers have not officially recorded or reported on African and Latin American spectator and innocent bystanders deaths.[3] As a result, fatality numbers for the Dakar vary from source to source, and bystander victims usually remain unnamed.

List of fatal accidents involving competitors[edit]

No Name Date Place Stage Vehicle Type
1 France Patrice Dodin January ? 1979 Agadez, Niger AgadezTahoua Yamaha XT 500 Motorcycle
Dodin, a French expatriate in Africa, lost control of his Yamaha while adjusting his helmet and fell approaching the start of the stage Agadez-Tahoua, hitting his head on a stone, sustaining a skull fracture. He was transferred to a hospital in Paris where he later died.[4][5][6][7][8]
2 Netherlands Bert Oosterhuis January 7, 1982 Ecker, Algeria Quatre CheminsTit Yamaha XT 570 Motorcycle
Oosterhuis, former road racing champion in the Netherlands, was killed between Bordj Omar Driss and Tit in Algeria. He was 41 years of age.[7][9][10]
3 France Jean-Noël Pineau January 14, 1983 Léo, Haute Volta In-GallKorhogo Yamaha XT 550 Motorcycle
In his fourth rally, Team Yamaha-France rider Pineau was killed a section of tarmac near Léo when he collided with a military vehicle. His best finish was 3rd overall.[7][11]
4 Japan Yasuo Kaneko January 2, 1986 Sète, France Versailles—-Sète Honda XR 500 Motorcycle
In his second start in the Dakar Rally, a non-entrant Peugeot 205 crashed against the motorcycle of Keneko at 1:30 a.m. of Thursday, 2 January 1986, about 8 km before the harbour of Sète, killing him instantly. The unnamed driver of the car was believed to have driven under the influence of alcohol. He was 41 years of age.[7][12]
5 Italy Giampaolo Marinoni January 24, 1986 Dakar, Senegal Saint LouisDakar Cagiva Elefant 650 Motorcycle
Marinoni, a test rider of production motorcycles for Cagiva and in his second rally, fell within 40 km from the finish line at the final stage of the rally. He managed to reach the finish line in thirteenth place amongst 131 starters and 29 finishers of riders. Initially Marinoni did not feel that one of the brake levers of his Lucky Explorer-Cagiva had hurt his liver during the fall. He later arrived to be treated for his injuries in a hospital in Dakar, he succumbed to an infection two days later.[13]
6 France Jean-Claude Huger January 17, 1988 Nampalari TombouctouBamako BMW R 100 GS Motorcycle
Huger was an escort rider for the President of the Republic of France and motorcyclist of the Gendarmerie Nationale. He crashed his BMW RT100 into a ditch near Nampala and hit his head on a rock, sustaining cranial trauma and lapsing into a coma. He was airlifted to Paris where he died two days later without regaining consciousness.[14][15][16]
7 Netherlands Kees van Loevezijn January 9, 1988 Djado, Niger DjadoAgadez DAF FAV3600 95X2 Truck
Theo van de Rijt, driver, Kees van Loevezijn, engineer, and Chris Ross from Scotland, were in a factory-entered DAF which had won its class the previous year. They hit a sand dune at about 180 km/h at 20 km from the start of a 414-mile leg and somersaulted several times, destroying the truck. Van Loevezijn was thrown out of the truck and died instantly. Van de Rijt and Ross were taken to a hospital in Agadez and airlifted to the Netherlands where they recovered. DAF withdrew the team from the rally and later terminated all motor-sport activities, selling the trucks and spare parts to factory driver Jan De Rooy's team. De Rooy re-entered the rally in 2002, at the age of 58.[7][15][16][17]
8 France Patrick Canado January 9, 1988 Arlit, Niger DjadoAgadez Range Rover Automobile
During the seventh stage Djado-Agadez of the rally, in a large desert road, the Range Rover of French team René Boubet and Patrick Canado and the Mercedes-Benz 280 of Italian team Klaus Seppi and Ambrogio Azzuffi collided at full speed some 25 km from the start of Arlit. Boubet's car, as it had steering problems, suddenly swerved into the other car and rolled several times. Co-driver Canado was thrown out of the car and was killed instantly; Boubet was seriously injured.[7][15][16][18]
9 France François Picquot January 3, 1991  ?, Libya Ghadames—Idri Nissan Terrano Automobile
During the second stage of the rally, Jacques Houssat, at the wheel of a truck Perlini P105, crashed into the Nissan Patrol of Henri De Roissard and François Picquot. The latter sustained head injuries and broken pelvis; he was airlifted to a hospital in France, where he later succumbed to his injuries. Houssat was eventually the winner of the truck category.[19]
10 France Charles Cabannes January 13, 1991 In Kadeouane, Mali Tombouctou—Néma Mercedes-Benz Truck
Cabannes, a support truck driver for the Citroën factory team, was shot dead by rebels at the side of the road in the small village of In Kadeouane during the 8th stage of the rally. His co-driver Joël Guyomarc'h had a superficial wound. The killing was not claimed by any rebel organization in the following days but was believed to be related with the conflict between the Malian army and Touareg rebels. Organisers cancelled the following two rounds on schedule and the Malian army escorted the competitors while passing through the country. After the incident, team Nissan-Spain withdrew from the race.[7][16][20][21]
11 France Laurent Le Bourgeois December 27, 1991 Sabha, Libya Sirte—Sabha Land Rover Defender Automobile
France Jean-Marie Sounillac
Land Rover Defender of Laurent Le Bourgeois and Jean-Marie Sounillac was an assistance vehicle for Jean-Louis Schlesser's prototype buggy "Le Duc de Bourgoigne". It overturned several times in the Libyan desert of Sabah just a few kilometers before the end of the fifth stage of the rally. The impact of the crash caused the roll-bar of the car to collapse and both the occupants were crushed and killed at the scene.[7][22]
13 France Gilles Lalay January 7, 1992 Lumonbo, Congo Francaville—Pointe-Noire Yamaha-Byrd YZE750T Motorcycle
Two hours after the end of the Francaville-Pointe Noire stage in Congo, 1989 winner Lalay, who finished fourth on the stage, was en route to the bivouac, when he was struck head-on by a Toyota belonging to the medical-assistance of the event organisers TSO (Thierry Sabine Organization). Lalay was taken to hospital at Lumonbo, where he succumbed to his injuries some hours later.[7][23]
14 Belgium Michel Sansen January 4, 1994 Nouakchott, Mauritania NouakchottDakar BMW Motorcycle
During the 8th stage, Sansen on his fifth start of the rally, running at speed on asphalt, suddenly lost control over a strip of sand, causing him to fall off, killing himself instantly. His nephew Jean-Philippe Miglotte, on another BMW, later immediately withdrew from the event following his uncle's death.[7][24][25]
15 France Laurent Gueguen January 3, 1996 Forum El Hassam, Morocco El Hassan—Smara Mercedes-Benz Truck
Whilst attempting to complete the 5th stage, Gueguen, driving a Mercedes-Benz truck (support vehicle for the Citroën team), got caught up in a conflict between the Moroccan army and the Polisario Front rebels. Following the stage, on a desert track some 400 meters from the signed path, the vehicle struck an abandoned Moroccan army land mine, causing it to explode, overturn and burst into flames from the impact, killing him instantly. Gueguen's co-drivers, Pascal Laudenot and Vincent Bauden, were able to escape from the wreckage, while Gueguen, who was driving at the moment of the accident, was not as fortunate.[7][16][21][26]
16 France Jean-Pierre Leduc January 5, 1997 Tambacounda, Mali TambacoundaKayes KTM Motorcycle
French amateur rider Jean-Pierre Leduc, on his debut rally, fell off and was killed instantly, after riding for 247 km of the second-stage rally.[7][27][28]
17 Belgium Daniel Vergnes January 8, 2002 Aleg, Mauritania AtârTidjikja Toyota Land Cruiser Automobile
During the 11th stage, the Toyota, which was entered in the rally as back-up car, rolled off a treacherous stretch of desert road en route to the stage finish in Tidjikja, throwing out Vergnes, the mechanic of the Toyota Trophy team, and he died hours later. His three team mates, Briton Sheona Dorson-King, Belgium's Christophe Van Rief and France's Benoit Agoyer, were all taken to hospital in Nouakchott. It is not known who was driving the car when the accident occurred.[7][29]
18 France Bruno Cauvy January 11, 2003  ?, Libya Zilla—Sarir Toyota Land Cruiser Automobile
165 miles into the stage between Zilla and Sarir, the Toyota of Daniel Nebot and Bruno Cauvy rolled over at high speed. The medical helicopter reached the overturned vehicle half an hour later; by then the co-driver Cauvy, who was on his debut rally, had died from his injuries, Nebot escaped with a few injuries.[3][16][28][30][31][32]
19 Spain José Manuel Pérez January 6, 2005 Zouérat—Tichit KTM 660R Motorcycle
Perez, in his fourth rally, sustained injuries to his stomach when he fell off his bike before the first checkpoint of the seventh stage from Zouérat to Tichit in Mauritania. He was immediately treated by the medical teams of the rally, who transferred him to the bivouac in Zouérat by helicopter. During an emergency procedure, he had his spleen, part of the liver and one kidney removed. He was later transferred to the Clinique du Cap in Dakar, Senegal, but his condition continued to worsen. He was airlifted to a hospital in Alicante, Spain, where he was put on intensive care and died a few hours later, within three days of his accident.[3][7][16][33]
20 Italy Fabrizio Meoni January 11, 2005 AtârKiffa KTM 660R Motorcycle
Meoni, winner of the rally in 2001 and 2002, crashed a few minutes after the first checkpoint during the 11th stage rally, breaking his neck. A witness to the crash, fellow rider David Fretigne, signaled for medical attention. By the time a medical helicopter arrived, they were unable to revive him; his cause of death was heart failure.

As grieving riders were unable to continue racing the next day, organisers cancelled the twelfth stage for all motorcyclists out of respect of Meoni.

This rally was his 13th and was to become his last even if he was alive, he held the lead until losing it on the previous leg to the eventual winner, Cyril Despres.[3][7][16][34][35]

21 Australia Andy Caldecott January 9, 2006 Ouassane, Mauritania NouakchottKiffa KTM 660R Motorcycle
Caldecott, standing in for injured Spaniard Jordi Duran to ride in the factory KTM team, was killed instantly when he crashed half way through a stage between Nouakchott and Kiffa in Mauritania. His best finish was sixth in the previous year.[16][36][37][38]
22 South Africa Elmer Symons January 9, 2007 Boumaine Dades, Morocco Er RachidiaOuarzazate KTM 660R Motorcycle
Symons had participated in the 2005 and 2006 rally as a support mechanic and was making his debut as a rider. He crashed his privateer KTM and died at the scene 142 km into the fourth stage. The emergency helicopter arrived within 8 minutes of his emergency alert beacon triggering, but was unable to do anything other than record his death. He was in 18th place for motorcycles overall, and led the Marathon class after the previous stage. Symons was the rally's 49th fatality.[16][39][40][41][42][43]
23 France Éric Aubijoux January 20, 2007 Dakar, Senegal TambacoundaDakar Yamaha 450WRF Motorcycle
During the 14th and penultimate stage Tambacounda and Dakar, Aubijoux, in his sixth rally, suffered a massive heart attack just about 15 km from the finish-line of Dakar, Senegal. He fell down and died on the spot. Initially it was thought that this was due to heart failure,[44] however after investigation the cause of death was determined to be the result of an accident.[45][46] To add further confusion, his bike was revealed to be undamaged and was believed to had pulled over feeling unwell and then collapsed due to a seizure. He never regained consciousness and died at the scene. He was declared 18th position overall. It was later suggested that Aubijoux died of internal injuries sustained in a crash earlier that day while competing in the 14th stage of the race.[16][47][48][49]
24 France Pascal Terry January 4, 2009 Cuchillo Cò, La Pampa, Argentina Santa Rosa de la PampaPuerto Madryn Yamaha 450WRF Motorcycle
At the second stage of the rally, Terry, in his debut rally, ran out of fuel and sent out an emergency signal to organisers. It was believed that the organisers were misinformed that Terry had reported back to the Dakar caravan at the end of the stage, therefore the search was abandoned, but it turned out to be his brother, also a competitor, who was in the camp. Terry was missing for three days; he was found dead fifty metres from his motorcycle. His cause of death was pulmonary edema, and it was believed that he likely died late Sunday evening or early Monday morning and that his life could have been saved had the search operation begun promptly.[16][50][51][52][53]
25 Argentina Jorge Andrés Martínez Boero January 1, 2012 Mar del Plata, Argentina Mar del Plata-Santa Rosa de la Pampa Beta RR 450 Modele 2011 Motorcycle
He died following a crash on the opening day.
26 France Thomas Bourgin January 11, 2013 Andes, Chile Calama-Salta KTM Motorcycle
Bourgin, was killed in a road accident with a Chilean police car whilst travelling to the start of the day's stage.[54]
27 Belgium Eric Palante January 10, 2014 Northern Argentina Chilecito-Salta Motorcycle
Officials found Palante's body after he failed to finish the stage.[55]
28 Poland Michał Hernik January 6, 2015 Argentina San Juan-Chilecito KTM Motorcycle
Officials found Hernik's body after he failed to finish the stage.

List of fatal accidents involving non-competitors[edit]

No Name Date Place Stage Vehicle Type
Italy Andrea Carisi January 6, 1981 In Salah, Algeria Fiat Campagnola Automobile
Italy Giuseppe De Tommaso
Italy Franco Druetta
During a displacement stage, a support Fiat Campagnola following the 1981 Paris-Dakar, went off the road and rolled several times, killing all the three Italian occupants.[56]
France Ursula Zentsch January ? 1982 Markala, Mali Temaouine—Gao Mercedes-Benz Truck
Journalist[57]
Mali Unknown January ? 1982 Mali n/a n/a
Passer-by[58]
Burkina Faso Unknown January ? 1984 Haute Volta n/a n/a
Spectator[59]
Niger Unknown January ? 1985 Niger n/a n/a
Spectator[60]
France Philippe Beau January ? 1985  ?, Mauritania TichitKiffa Helicopter
Pilot[61]
Switzerland François-Xavier Bagnoud January 14, 1986 Gourma Rharous, Mali NiameyGourma Eurocopter Ecureuil Helicopter
France Jean-Paul Lefur
France Nathalie Odent
France Thierry Sabine
France Daniel Balavoine
The helicopter crashed into a dune during a sudden sand-storm. The accident took the life of the founder and organizer of the Dakar, Thierry Sabine, and four other persons: a well-known French pop singer Daniel Balavoine, the journalist Nathalie Odent, a radio engineer Jean-Paul Lefur and the helicopter pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud.[3][7][15][16][62]
France Henri Mouren January 1987 Kiffa, Mauritania Tidjikja—Atar Automobile
Support crew[63]
Mali Baye Sibi January 18, 1988 Kitta, Mali BamakoKayes n/a n/a
Pedestrian[3][15][16][64]
Mauritania Unknown January 21, 1988 Mauritania NouakchottRichard Toll n/a n/a
Mauritania Unknown
Spectator[16][65]
Senegal Unknown January 22, 1988 Dakar, Senegal Richard TollDakar n/a n/a
Spectator[16][66]
Finland Kaj Salminen January 9, 1990 Markala, Mali Tidjika—Kayes Automobile
Finnish journalist Kaj Salminen was killed when the service-car he was driving crashed against a parked tractor during the 16th stage.[57]
Chad Unknown January 2, 1992 Rig Rig, Chad N'DjamenaSarh n/a n/a
Chad Unknown
Spectator[67]
Spain Tomás Urpí January 1, 1996 OujdaEr Rachidia Automobile
Spectator[68]
Guinea Unknown January 12, 1996 Ecker, Algeria KayesLabé n/a n/a
Pedestrian[69]
Mauritania Unknown January 12, 1998 Nouakchott, Mauritania Displacement n/a n/a
Mauritania Unknown
Mauritania Unknown
Mauritania Unknown
Mauritania Unknown
French team Francis Bouney and Guy Aliphat crashed their Toyota 11TJ80 into a minibus during their displacement stage.[70]
Burkina Faso Unknown January 8 1999 Burkina Faso NioroBobo-Dioulasso n/a Automobile
French competitor Henri De Roissard lost control of his Nissan Terrano and crashed into a vehicle of the Burkina Faso gendarmerie. The policeman who was at the wheel died several hours later.[71]
France Unknown December 28, 2001 ChâteaurouxNarbonne n/a Automobile
During the 2nd stage, a French citizen crashed into an assistance car from the Rally.[72]
Senegal Unknown January 11, 2005 ChâteaurouxNarbonne n/a Automobile
During the displacement stage of the assistance trucks to the finish-line in Senegal territory about 160 km from Dakar, a 5-year-old Senegalese girl escaped the clutches of her parents and ran onto the main road in the path of a service lorry, where she was crushed beneath the wheels.[16][73]
Guinea Boubacar Diallo January 12, 2006 Kourahoye, Labé, Guinea LabéTambacounda n/a n/a
Diallo, a 10-year-old boy from the Guinean village of Kourahoye, watched the rally with his parents when he was struck by a car that was one of its competitors when he attempted to cross the road. He was transported by helicopter to Labe when he died.[16][74][75][76]
Senegal Mohamed N'Daw January 14, 2006 Kaffrine, Senegal TambacoundaDakar n/a n/a
N'Daw was hit by a rally car driven by Maris Saukans of Latvia in the late morning on the RN1 road at the 200 km point of the penultimate stage between Tambacounda and Dakar. He was twelve years of age, Saukans later withdrew from the rally. Rally organisers decided that the final round would not be timed due to the incidents in the final few days that marred the rally.[16][77][78][79][80]
Chile Roberto de la Cruz Vera Hernández January 9, 2009 Pejerreyes, Ovalle, Chile displacement n/a Automobile
Peru Freddy Arucutipa Torres
During a displacement stage, a non-competing support truck of Argentinean Marcelo Fabián Sánchez, carrying tyres for the competitors, lost control and struck head-on into a car at route D-43 which joins La Serena and Ovalle, killing two of its passengers instantly. The other two occupants of the car was taken into a hospital in Ovalle for treatments. Sanchez was detained for further questioning.[62][81][82][83]
Argentina Natalia Sonia Gallardo January 2, 2010 Rio Cuarto, Argentina ColónCórdoba n/a n/a
During the first stage of the rally, 28-year-old Natalia Gallardo was killed after she and a group of spectators were involved in an incident with the Desert Warrior 4x4 of Mirco Schultis and Ulrich Leardi, which had veered off course near the town of Rio Cuarto, some 800 km (500 mi) from Buenos Aires. Four other fans were injured, two of which were transferred to Córdoba for further treatment.[84]
Argentina Marcelo Reales January 13, 2011 Catamarca, Argentina Chilecito-San Juán Toyota Hilux Car
In the stage 11, the Toyota Hilux of Eduardo Amor was out-of-control and crashed with 42-year-old Marcelo Reales' car.[85]
Argentina Luis Soldavini January 2, 2012 Orense, Argentina Santa Rosa-San Rafael n/a Light plane
Argentina Tomás Soldavini
In the stage 2, Their aircraft crashed while they were watching the race from the air. Luis was 37 and his son 11 years old.[86]
Peru Unknown January 11, 2013 Tacna, Peru - Taxi Automobile
Peru Unknown
Two Peruvian spectators were killed in a head-on collision road traffic accident between a Land Rover Defender support team vehicle and two taxis.[87]
Argentina Agustin Ignacio Mina January 10, 2014 Northern Argentina - - Automobile
Argentina Daniel Eduardo Ambrosio
Mina, a motorsports journalist, along with Ambrosio, had their vehicle overturned while driving.[55]
Bolivia Máximo Riso January 9, 2016 near Uyuni, Bolivia - n/a Automobile
A 65-year-old Bolivian spectator was killed after he was hit by a Mitsubishi vehicle driven by Frenchman Lionel Baud. The incident took place on the 82nd km of the Uyuni – Salta stage.[88][89]
Argentina Unknown January 12, 2016 Córdoba, Argentina - n/a Automobile
An Argentinian driver was killed in a traffic accident involving the assistance vehicle of Lionel Baud. Baud's car was being transported to Buenos Aires in order to be shipped off to Europe after his retirement due to the fatal accident of a Bolivian spectator 3 days before.[90]

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