A family friend of daredevil Alex Harvill said through tears that she knew going to the Moses Lake Airshow in Washington on Thursday to watch him practice for an attempt at a world record 351-foot motorcycle jump that there was a chance he could lose his life.
‘I really hoped it wouldn’t [happen],’ Debbie Williams told the local news station KREM2 after Harvill, 28, came up short and crashed into a dirt mound, suffering fatal injuries.
Williams offered an account of what took place as Harvill attempted the jump.
‘The next thing I know, he went off the ramp and he didn’t make it to the hill,’ she recounted. ‘His back tire…looks like it got caught and then he flew through the air and his helmet came off. And then you just start praying.’
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
Alex Harvill died on Thursday after crashing while gearing up for an attempt at a world record 351-foot motorcycle jump
The accident was witnessed by a large crowd of spectators and was caught on video.
‘Everyone around there was traumatized by that,’ said Williams, whose son was friends with Harvill.
Witness Becca Camden, a nurse, said watching Harvill’s helmet come off his head was ‘traumatic.’
The organizers of the event had medics on standby because they said they knew Harvill’s jump was risky.
It took paramedics 2 minutes, 30 seconds, to reach Harvill and begin administering first aid. He was then loaded into an ambulance and whisked to the hospital.
Family friend Debbie Williams said through sobs it looked like Harvill’s back tire caught on the ramp
The stunt biker’s family has since released a statement to KREM2, which read: ‘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.’
Harvill leaves behind his wife of less than two years, Jessica, and their two sons, the youngest of whom was born a month ago.
On the eve of his fateful jump, Harvill posted a photo of his bike, dubbed Suzy, on his Instagram account, writing in the accompanying caption: ‘Suzy is ready to be sent!’
A week prior, he uploaded a video of himself talking about the preparations for his upcoming world record jump.
‘I’m finishing up my landing and my takeoff,’ he says in the video while standing in front of a long ramp at Grant County International Airport. ‘There’s a few things left to do, little nuts and bolts, quite literally. But I’m ready to send this thing.’
After urging his fans to come out and watch him jump 350 feet on June 17, he playfully used his fingers to mimic the way his bike would ride up the ramp and soar in the air.
Daredevil Alex Harvill lost his life after a practice motorcycle jump resulted in a deadly crash
When Harvill lands, he hits the a dirt mound with a high enough impact to go flying
Video shows Harvill being loaded into the back of an ambulance after his botched jump on Thursday
On the eve of the fateful jump, Harvill shared on Instagram photos of his bike, ‘Suzy,’ including one featuring his eldest son
‘It’s gonna be just like that,’ he said with a smile.
Harvill was at the Moses Lake Airshow in Washington, where spectators were recording his practice jumps ahead of the world record attempt.
iFIBER One reports that the fatal practice jump was his first of the morning and was a 150-foot jump.
In the video, Harvill can be seen riding his bike through a field before launching off a ramp.
During his jump, however, Harvill came up short of his destination and crashed into a dirt mound.
KIMA-TV reports that witnesses saw Harvill’s helmet flying off of his head after the crash.
It then appears that Harvill is tossed forward from the bike, much to the shock of people witnessing the moment.
Spectators watching the stunt could be heard groaning as the video comes to an end.
Harvill was reportedly taken to Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake after first responders tried to treat him at the scene, before ultimately succumbing to his injuries.
An autopsy is scheduled to be performed on Friday to determine Harvill’s cause of death.
‘Our deepest sympathies go out to Alex’s family, friends and loved ones,’ the Grant County Sherriff’s Office said on Facebook.
After the crash, the airshow where the jump was taking place vowed on Facebook to donate proceeds from the jump towards medical expenses for Harvill.
Harvill was seen on Instagram looking at the ramp where his fatal crash would occur
In the video from June 6, he mimic performing the jump off the ramp with his fingers
A giddy Harvill is seen pumping his fists in the video taken on June 6
The Moses Lake Airshow, where the jump took place, commented before Harvill’s death
They have not commented publicly since Harvill’s death was confirmed around 4:30pm ET.
Harvill was listed as one of the featured events in the airshow at the Grant County International Airport, set to run from Thursday to Saturday.
The 28-year-old was an accomplished daredevil who hailed from Ephrata, Washington.
On May 12, 2012, he set a world record at Toes Motocross Park in Royal City, Washington, for ramp-to-dirt distance jump, which he clocked in at 425 feet.
A year later, he went for the world record for dirt-to-dirt distance jump.
Harvill leaped over 297 feet at Horn Rapids Motorsports Complex in Richland, Washington, on July 6, 2013. He still holds that Guinness World Record.
He also competed in a number of sports, including the Canadian MX National Series, AMA Motocross, AMA Supercross and Arenacross, in addition to doing stunt work.
A month before his fatal world record attempt, Harvill posted about his goal on his website.
In video, Harvill can be seen on Thursday riding up to the ramp for his jump
Once he hits the ramp, he starts flying through the sky, all seemingly to plan
As his jump is unfolding, however, it becomes clear that Harvill may land short of his target
Witnesses claim that Harvill lost his helmet after the crash took place on Thursday
‘I will be attempting another world record jump at this years airshow here in Moses Lake Washington. This time it will be Guinness World Records official for the ‘Ramp to Dirt’ Motorcycle Distance Jump attempt,’ Harvill posted.
‘The current Guinness record… is held by Robbie Maddison who has courageously pushed the sport in many ways over the years,’ he continued.
That record was set by Maddison over 13 years ago, back in March 2008.
Ahead of his record jump attempt, Harvill told the Columbia Basin Herald that he had been riding since he was four years old.
He also spoke of the inspiration of Evel Knievel, saying, ‘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.’
Harvill was listed as one of the featured events in the airshow at the Grant County International Airport, set to run from Thursday to Saturday (bike pictured)
Alex Harvill is survived by his wife, Jessica, who he is pictured with on Instagram
Jessica was pregnant and gave birth to Alex’s second child just one month ago
In 2017, Harvill suffered an injury after taking a jump too fast, resulting in a hard landing that sent him flying over the handlebars, shattering a heel.
‘All the sudden I just saw I was going too far,’ Harvill said. ‘And at that point, there’s nothing you can do.’
The accident forced him to reconsidering his racing career, though he ultimately got back into it and was even winning races prior to Thursday’s tragedy.
Just one month ago, Harvill took to Instagram to announce the birth of Watson Robert Harvill, his second baby.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help Harvill’s widow and his two sons.