Jessi Combs' fatal jet car crash caused by wheel failure, investigators say

An investigation into the death of land speed record-chaser Jessi Combs has determined that a mechanical failure led to her high-speed crash.

(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Combs was driving the jet-powered North American Eagle across Oregon’s Alvord Desert on Aug. 27 when the vehicle was seen losing control and bursting into flames.

The Harney County Sherriff’s said Monday that an examination of the wreckage has led investigators and Combs’ team to conclude that the front wheel of the vehicle suffered a failure, likely from striking an object on the dry lake bed at approximately 550 mph. The report added that Combs, 39, died from blunt force trauma to her head before the vehicle caught fire.

(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

According to the team’s website, the vehicle’s forged aluminum wheels were designed to retain their integrity at speeds up to 900 mph.

The team has not commented on the report.

Combs was trying to break the women’s land speed record of 512 mph set at the same location by Kitty O’Neil in 1976. According to the team, prior to the accident, she completed the two runs in opposite directions at an average speed of 531.889 mph, which has been submitted to Guinness World Records for verification in her honor.

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