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Friend recounts Vegas to Reno fatality

Chris Carlisle, 39, was a retired Marine, combat veteran, recipient of the Purple Heart and an avid motorcycle racer.

He passed away on Aug. 18 during a fatal wreck at mile 290 in the 550-mile Vegas to Reno race. This is a personal account by his racing team member and friend, Nick Hamm of the heroics that went into trying to save his friend’s life.

“I haven’t posted anything about it, out of respect for the family to be notified first and to gather all the facts … My good friend and fellow combat veteran passed away after crashing,” Hamm wrote on the Warrior Built Foundation page after the race.

“Chris was my close friend and it’s extremely difficult to even type this message without crying,” Hamm said. “We shared so much with each other and I have spent almost every day this past week and a half with him preparing for this race. First and foremost, I want everyone to know that Chris was the happiest I’ve seen him in several months. Some may have known him as a Marine and some outside of the Marine Corps as a personal friend. I knew him as both.”

Hamm said he was going through a challenging time in his life and that when Carlisle raced “he interacted with everyone on our team and it was inspiring.” He impacted so “many lives positively.”

Hamm said Chris rode his first section in the morning from pit two, race mile 57 to pit three, race mile 93. He had a great ride and came into pit three.

“He was so motivated and pumped up to be ripping on a dirt bike in this race,” Hamm said. “He passed the bike off to another combat vet, Jason Hamm (my brother), and got in the chase truck with me. He was so pumped and stoked on this adventure we both were on.”

Nick Hamm then got on the race bike at pit five, race mile 183 after my brother passed it off to him. Nick Hamm then passed the bike off to Carlisle at pit seven at race mile 242.

“I locked hands with Chris and hugged him as I gave him the bike,” Nick Hamm said. “He had a big smile and I told him to enjoy it and be safe. That would be the last time I saw my friend before he crashed at race mile 290.”

Nick Hamm then said he went to pit nine because of construction delays at pit eight.

“I didn’t want Chris to beat us to pit nine and have to wait on us because Chris was passing the bike off to me at pit nine, race mile 300,” Nick Hamm said.

Nick Hamm then said he heard some confusing radio traffic at pit nine while waiting for Carlisle. The traffic described some wrecks involving a quad and a truck, but he knew it couldn’t be his friend because of the GPS locator the bike had.

Then he heard another call.

“All those events on the radio happened within 10 minutes over the radio net and then we heard race bike 352 is down and needs medical attention between pit eight and pit nine,” Nick Hamm said. “I immediately ran over to the Best in the Desert officials’ trailer at pit nine and told them I knew exactly where he was because of our internal tracker we put on the bike from Lead Nav. I grabbed the medic from BITD and he jumped in our chase truck to head toward race mile 290, which was 10 miles from us.”

Nick Hamm said while he was driving toward his friend, a helicopter from the Terrible Herbst team landed to help Carlisle after getting notified from either their driver or another racer that a rider was down on the race course. They landed within minutes of the crash and moved him to a safer location off the course.

“They didn’t have a medic on board so they called the Red Bull team helicopter behind them because they had a medic on board,” Nick Hamm said. “The Red Bull team medic helped to stabilize Chris. We are very thankful for the Herbst team landing to assist Chris and we can’t thank Jessie, the medic from Bryce Menzies’ Red Bull team, for her comforting Chris and holding him all the way to the hospital. He was conscious for her and she talked to him, never letting go of his hand.”

According to Nick Hamm, Carlisle was flown to Mount Grant General Hospital in Hawthorne, where he was stabilized and then flown to Reno.

“Unfortunately Chris passed away during the life flight to Reno,” Nick Hamm said. “His internal injuries were just too extensive but he fought like the Marine he was and held on longer than any normal man could.”

Nick Hamm is the founder of the Warrior Built Foundation. According to him, Carlisle was not only a hero in combat for the Marines, but he was a hero to his family and all those veterans he helped to cope.

A Celebration of Life will be held Wednesday, Aug. 23 at Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel at 11 a.m. Graveside services will be held at Riverside National Cemetery on Aug. 29 at 1:45 p.m. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made in Chris’ name to Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs, The Warrior Built Foundation, or God’s Army of League City, Texas.

1st Sgt. Carlisle will be escorted to Riverside National Cemetery by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the Patriot Guard.

On Tuesday, Aug. 29, the graveside service begins at 1:45 p.m., at 22495 Van Buren Blvd., Riverside, California.

The family can be helped by donating at gofundme.com/chriscarlislememorial

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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