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Rally car driver and DC Shoes co-founder Ken Block dies in a snowmobile accident

Ken Block, pictured here at the 2017 World Rallycross Championship in Barcelona, Spain, died yesterday in a snowmobile accident, his company said.
David Ramos
Getty Images
Ken Block, pictured here at the 2017 World Rallycross Championship in Barcelona, Spain, died yesterday in a snowmobile accident, his company said.

Updated January 3, 2023 at 9:12 PM ET

Ken Block, an action sports legend who co-founded DC Shoes and Hoonigan Racing, died on Monday at age 55 after a snowmobile accident.

Hoonigan first announced the death on social media. The Wasatch County Sheriff's Office later confirmedthat Block was riding a snowmobile near his home in Utah around 2 p.m. when he tried to navigate up a steep slope, causing the craft to fall back on top of him. Officials pronounced him dead at the scene.

"Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon. And most importantly, a father and a husband," Hoonigan wrote in the statement. "He will be incredibly missed."

Block co-founded DC Shoes, a popular skateboarding and shoe brand, in 1994,building the brand into a global success through strategic sponsorships and athletes' endorsements.

After selling the company in 2004 for $87 million, he became better known as a rally car legend, winning 16 national titles in the sport from 2005 to 2014.

He also earned five medals in the X Games and became one of only four Americans to score points in the World Rally Championship.

Block was also competitive in motocross and skateboarding, but his true call to fame was documenting his automotive aeronautics on social media.

His YouTube page, which amassed over 1.95 million subscribers, credits itself for driving America's burgeoning appreciation for motorsports.

Block had shared pictures about the heavy snowfall at his Utah ranch on social media hours before the accident, writing, "hell yeah!" across an Instagram photo of snowmobiles.

Tributes to the icon were pouring in across his platforms on Tuesday morning.

"Ken was truly an idol and inspiration for me, getting me into rally. [...] I've never been hit so hard by someone's passing," wrote Facebook user Troy Dawson.

Dave Smith, a YouTube commenter wrote, "I never understood the draw to extreme sports until watching one of his videos. HE was the draw."

Block's legend is likely to live on through the rally racing success of his family. His 16-year-old daughter, Lia, has been competing for Hoonigan racing since age 11 and his wife, Lucy,made her all-wheel-drive rally debut this year.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: January 2, 2023 at 11:00 PM CST
A previous version stated that DC Shoes was founded in 1984. In fact, it was founded in 1994.
Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.