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Fuel Malfunction May Have Triggered Film Accident

May 18, 1987 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A switch malfunction may have caused a crash during filming of an anti-drag racing film that left a race car driver in critical condition, friends said.

Anthony Galati, 25, of Arleta, wasn’t wearing a seatbelt or a crash helmet when he lost control of his 1968 Camaro on Ethel Avenue near Los Angeles Valley College about noon Sunday, police said.

The car veered into the film director’s parked truck, pushing it 25 feet, said Patrick Russell, a campus police officer.

Galati was flown by Los Angeles Fire Department air ambulance to St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, where he was in critical condition late Sunday night with head injuries, according to hospital spokeswoman Lynn Bratchi.

No one else was injured.

″It’s just tragic that someone gets hurt like this when the intent was to enlighten folks,″ Los Angeles police Sgt. Jeffery Martin said. ″If nothing else, it underscores the danger of drag racing.″

Director Anthony De Santo and friend Doug Lundin, said the car Galati was driving used a special racing fuel that combined aviation gasoline and nitrous oxide.

″Maybe the button that controls the nitrous oxide stuck,″ Lundin said.

Galati, who races at the Los Angeles County Raceway in Palmdale, was driving the car as a favor to his friend, De Santo. De Santo said he was shooting the last scene of a public service film called ″Street Racing is a Drag″ as part of a college class project.

The Camaro was racing a red Corvette and was to stop at a pedestrian overpass where a camara crew was positioned.

But the car sped across the finish line out of control at an estimated 60 mph and crashed into De Santo’s pickup truck, police Lt. Alan Kerstein said.

″It knocked the pickup end-over-end for about 40 feet,″ he said.