Sunday, August 5, 2012

NASCAR Fan Killed After Lightning Strikes Race

One fan was killed and another was in critical condition after multiple lightning strikes occurred after a NASCAR Sprint Cup race was cut short by thunderstorms Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

The dead NASCAR fan was a 41-year-old man, the Pocono Record reported. The newspaper quoted Monroe County Coroner Bob Allen as saying the victim was leaning against his car when lightning struck the vehicle.

Track spokesman Bob Pleban said 10 fans were taken to hospitals. He said Pocono had a policy in place for emergency evacuations but said the track might not have further updates until Monday morning.

Pleban said the fan, whose identity has not been released, was declared dead on arrival at Pocono Medical Center. One of the other nine injured fans was in critical condition.

Officials had not yet determined whether all of the injured fans were hit by the same lightning strike or multiple strikes.

A severe storm warning was issued for the region surrounding the track at 4:12 p.m. ET, but the race wasn't stopped until 4:50 p.m., after 98 of a scheduled 160 laps.

The race was won by Jeff Gordon, who said he heard a huge crack of lightning walking down pit road after his 86th career victory.

"You could tell it was very close," said Gordon, who learned of the fans being taken to the hospital during his postrace news conference, before the death was announced. "That's going to take away from the victory, the fact that somebody was affected by that. The fans here are so loyal and avid, so you hate to hear something like that. Certainly our thoughts are with them."

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