Funeral services are scheduled Wednesday for Butch Laswell, a motorcyclist who died in a gruesome weekend accident when a stunt went awry.
Controversy continued to swirl around the fatal jump, and whether it should have been delayed because of mechanical problems and menacing wind gusts.Laswell, 37, was killed Sunday afternoon when his motorcycle missed a landing ramp after soaring over a pedestrian walkway in Mesquite, Nev., 80 miles northeast of here.
Some friends and associates said Laswell was fearful of making the jump because of gusting winds. Others said he was determined to do so to avoid disappointing a crowd of thousands that had gathered to watch the jump, and movie crews who were filming the scene.
Lt. Gov. Lonnie Hammargren, a neurosurgeon who was at the scene, added to the controversy by saying paramedics should have done more to keep Laswell alive.
Promoter Douglas MacValley said he and Laswell had talked about postponing the jump "and I was waiting for him to come back with the microphone (to announce the delay) and then he went and jumped."
Laswell raced his Honda CR500 up a steep ramp and soared over a 38-foot-high pedestrian bridge spanning a street between the Oasis Hotel-Casino and the hotel's garage.
Crosswinds and excessive speed pushed Laswell to the left of the landing ramp, MacValley said. He crashed to the concrete below. MacValley said Laswell tried to steer his bike away from the crowd.
Laswell had been trying to break his personal best of 41 feet high and set a world record.
"He was not under pressure from anybody to do it. I told him that he could wait as much as he wanted and nobody would be upset with him - not the hotel management, the other hotel owners, the crowds, anyone," MacValley said. "He probably was pressuring himself, worrying he would lose his credibility."
Sal Murillo, manager of the specialty acts in the Riviera Hotel's stage show "Splash," where Laswell once performed, said MacValley pressured the cyclist.
Motorcycle stuntmen Evel Knievel in 1967 and Gary Wells in 1980 failed at a similar stunt, trying to clear the 35-foot fountain in front of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Both recovered from their injuries.
Knievel's son, Robbie, successfully completed the jump in front of Caesars on April 1, 1989. It was the last time someone jumped the fountains there.