Fluvanna County officials have identified the man who died at a mud-bogging event Saturday as Carol Dennis “Chuck” Engel Jr. of Goochland County.
Officials suspect Engel, 45, suffered from some sort of medical condition that caused him to lose control of his vehicle, which left the course and overturned into a nearby pond full of swimmers.
The cause of death was listed as drowning, his brother-in-law said, but Engel’s family believes he experienced heat stroke or some other medical problem before the crash.
“He’d already done his run, and you have to go up a hill and turn around,” said Rob Chesson, Chuck Engel’s brother-in-law, in a phone interview Sunday night. “People said his head was leaning down and over to the side … and he hit a log, and I guess his foot hit the gas pedal … and launched him into the pond.”
Mud bogging is a sport in which drivers race through mud pits, usually in pickup trucks. Engel was an experienced mud bogger, driving his truck, “Mud Life Crisis.” He’d been at the sport for 10 years, competing in events along the East Coast, Chesson said.
“He loved it, and it was one of his favorite things to do,” Chesson said.
Engel, who was pronounced dead before he could be airlifted to the hospital, is survived by a large family, ranging from his five children, ages 6 to 20, to three grandparents. He owned Sabot Construction in Crozier.
Saturday’s contest was held at Haislip Farm, which is between Scottsville and Palmyra.
Three people were taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center because of injuries related to the crash, and a Fluvanna County deputy was taken to UVa for heat-related issues after performing CPR.
The identities and conditions of those taken to the hospital could not be determined by press time Sunday.
Lt. David R. Wells of the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office said that there’s no suggestion alcohol was a factor in the crash. Officials have also said there was no indication of a vehicle malfunction.
Engel had just completed a run and had started to turn back to the staging area when the vehicle went off its expected course and ran into the pond, according to Wells.
The family will receive visitors from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Bennett Funeral Home on West Broad Street in Glen Allen, and there will be a memorial service at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Forest Grove Christian Church on Hadensville-Fife Road in Goochland.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Engel Children’s Trust Fund via the Bank of Essex.