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The Associated Press October 17, 2011, 2:56PM ET

Off-road racer Huseman dies in plane crash

Off-road racing champion Rick Huseman and his brother were among three people killed when a small plane crashed in the Southern California desert, a coroner's official said Monday.

Huseman, 38; his 26-year-old brother, Jeffrey Huseman, and 35-year-old Daniel Hicks, all of Riverside, were killed when the plane went down Sunday afternoon, San Bernardino County Deputy Coroner Investigator Teri Lay said. It was not immediately clear who was piloting the aircraft, Lay said.

Huseman had taken part on Saturday in the 12th round of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series in Surprise, Ariz. He won the series' Pro 4 championship last year.

"Rick was an enthusiastic and extremely talented member of Toyota's off-road racing program. He was a true champion both on and off the track," Les Unger, national motorsports manager for Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., said in the statement.

The Beech 33 Bonanza was flying from North Las Vegas, Nev., to Corona, Calif., when the pilot declared an emergency Sunday afternoon. The plane was heading to Barstow-Daggett Airport to land when it went down in unincorporated Newberry Springs, about 5 miles from the airport.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Huseman racked up 44 victories in more than a decade of off-racing racing, according to his Toyota biography. He and his older brother, Danny, began racing in 1996 and won several short-course championships, according to his Toyota biography. He moved into full-size trucks and Pro 4 class racing in 2005. He won his first Pro 4 victory two years later.

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