“Front wheel failure” caused Jessi Combs’ fatal crash

An investigation into the crash that killed land-speed record holder Jessie Combs has concluded that the accident was caused by “a mechanical failure of the front wheel, most likely caused from striking an object in the desert,” according to the Harney County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office. Multiple media outlets reported the findings.

Combs, 39, died in a crash of her jet-powered North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger on August 27 while attempting to capture a land speed record of 500+ mph on a dry lake bed in the Alvord Desert. Combs’ goal was to break the outright women’s land speed record of 512.7 mph, set by Kitty O’Neil in 1976.

The investigation determined that the mechanical failure “led to the front wheel assembly collapsing” at nearly 550 mph, and Combs died as a result of blunt-force trauma to the head before the jet car caught fire.

Prior to the crash, Combs had completed runs of 515.346 mph and 548.432 mph for an average of 531.889 mph, which has been submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records.

“Jessi’s most notable dream was to become the fastest woman on Earth, a dream she had been chasing since 2012,” Combs’ family said in a statement in September. “She was one of the rare dreamers with the bravery to turn those possibilities into reality, and she left this earth driving faster than any other woman in history.”

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