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Fatal Tragedy Marks Derby's Final Weekend

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

Right before the start of the race 28-year-old Philip "Flip" Merwin would have competed in Sunday, racers and fans were silent.

Merwin was the front-runner for a world championship trophy Saturday when his snowmobile crashed into a wall during a race.

"I know he was happy," Scott Parsons, said. "That was his big passion. That's what he really, really enjoyed to do."

Parsons says his friend died doing what he loved. The two had been friends for eight years.

"Nobody that ever came in contact with him will ever forget him." Parsons said.

He remembers meeting Merwin for the first time, and says they liked one another from the start.

"Flip was just the most wonderful person you've ever seen. He would do anything for you," said Parsons.

Parsons says Flip knew the dangers of racing as well as anybody.

"Well racing is just that. Part of it is the thrill, and with that comes risk," said Parsons.

Even skiers with years of experience like Flip say there are always risks involved when traveling at such high speeds.

"It's a dangerous sport," said John Thomas from Bloomington, IL "We all know it."

"When you get into corners, it's fast." Veteran racer Darrell Lidwin said. "It's tough to control. You're wrestling 400 pounds of machine around. It's not easy."

Good friends of Flip Merwin took his snowmobile around the track one last time to remember him. People took their hats off as the trailer carrying his snowmobile passed.

Eagle River police are still investigating the accident.