28 people injured after crash in final lap of NASCAR event
Nearly 30 people were injured during a NASCAR event in Daytona Beach, Florida on Saturday when a multi-car collision in the race’s final lap hurled debris and a participant’s car hurtling toward the stands.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that 14 people were hospitalized — one reportedly in critical condition due to head trauma — and another 14 were treated at the Daytona International Speedway following the accident during the race, part of the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
The accident began when several cars made contact with each other as participants battled for position going into the final lap of the race. The ensuing chain reaction caused driver Kyle Larson’s car to plow into a “catch fence” positioned between the track and the grandstand, sending parts of the vehicle flying into the crowd. One spectator was reportedly hit 45 rows up in the stands.
“We saw a tire and debris go into the crowd,” said one bystander, Bryon Gifford. “There was chaos everywhere.”
According to the Associated Press, six of the victims were being treated for serious injuries, while four others were expected to be released on Saturday.
Neither Larson nor any other driver was injured, but the front end of Larson’s car was torn off, and a piece of his engine was seen burning while stuck in a hole in the fence.
Officials with both NASCAR and the speedway declined comment on the potential extent of injuries suffered during the crash, which happened less than 24 hours before the facility was to host the Daytona 500, one of NASCAR’s signature events.
“There obviously was some intrusion into the fence,” NASCAR President Mike Helton said. “Fortunately with the way the event’s equipped up, there were plenty of emergency workers ready to go and they all jumped in on it pretty quickly. Right now, it’s just a function of determining what all damage is done.”
The Associated Press posted video of the accident on Saturday, which can be seen below.