STOCKTON - A 47-year-old man died after he was hurt while working Sunday on the San Joaquin Fair's horse-racing track, fair and law enforcement officials confirmed Monday.
David Fowler-Wright, a Humboldt County resident, was a former jockey who was employed this year as a rake man, responsible for raking the track smooth of tire tracks that can frighten horses.
About 4 p.m. Sunday, horses had just left the starting gate for the seventh race of the day. Fowler-Wright was on top of the gate when a tractor began pulling it out of the way of oncoming horses, according to a Stockton Police Department report on the incident.
While the gate was moving, Fowler-Wright either slipped or tried to jump off it and fell. He was run over by the gate's back tires.
He was taken to San Joaquin General Hospital, where he died.
"He was my good, good friend," Kenny Olsen said, as he tried to light a cigarette inside a tack room at the track on Monday. "He was an outstanding friend. … He was an outstanding jockey."
People who knew Fowler-Wright said he was originally from England and had worked as a jockey until about two years ago.
The racetrack was dark Monday and will be today for a previously scheduled break. Racing is to resume Wednesday, the first day of the fair, CEO Debbie Cook said.
Cook said fair officials are investigating the accident, and an employee meeting will be held Wednesday.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, opened an investigation into the incident Monday. An inspector will visit the work site, interview employees and fair officials, and review safety plans, spokeswoman Erika Monterroza said.
Unless there were clear evidence of a hazard, Cal/OSHA would not stop the races from continuing, she said.
The investigation likely will be completed within three to four months.
In 2006, 6-year-old Reuben Castillo died at the fair when he fell about 90 feet from a Ferris wheel.