TACOMA, Wash. - "It stopped everyone in our tracks, we questioned our existence."
That's how Feld Motorsports Operations Director Bill Easterly sums up what happened one year ago, on January 16, 2009.
Monster Jam was in full swing at the Tacoma Dome, when a truck lost a part, and it flew into the stands. It struck a man and 6-year-old Sebastian Hizey. The impact killed the boy, in front of his stunned parents.
Yet, despite the tragedy, and what was deemed by promoters as a "freak accident," the show continued.
It will also return to the Dome, with changes, starting Friday.
"We came back because the rest of the fans told us to," says Easterly, who says he's helped implement a variety of changes to the show policies and procedures.
It includes adding inspections, and a safety officer on the ground. There are new restraints on engines and drive lines (like the one which broke last year), and truck drive lines must also be painted in a bright color so a problem can be more easily seen.
And perhaps the biggest change: Fewer seats will be available as Feld has closed them off as a safety precaution, including the row where Sebastian was sitting.
"We have added some holds in the end zones, both end zones, five rows," says Easterly.
It's still not enough for Jessie and Phyllis Hizey, who have left town in attempt to avoid the memory and continue their healing process.
"I would like to say one thing about the show coming to town this weekend," Jessie told KING 5. "We are not mad the show is coming back, because in our hearts we knew it would. What angers me is rubbing it in our faces by bringing the show back on the day he died. It shows a complete lack of respect for me and my family. It's completely incomprehensible what the Tacoma Dome staff has done to allow the show back on the 16th. That's our day to grieve, NOT theirs to celebrate. Shame on them."
"It's by no mean disrespect," says Tacoma Dome director Mike Combs. "Sebastian's picture, from his memorial last year, I attended. It sits on my desk at home. This was a contractual situation."
Combs says Monster Jam has always visited Tacoma during the same weekend, and it was contractually bound the property for the next few days.
"It's unfortunate it's on the anniversary day, but they come the same weekend every year," he said.
The Hizeys settled with Feld Motorsports for an undisclosed amount.
Monster Jam runs Friday, Saturday, Sunday at the Tacoma Dome.