- Outrage as Air Force base in South Carolina boots Nativity scene
- Israel poised for a $173M boost from the U.S. for missile defense
- Leon Panetta named as source of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ scriptwriter’s information
- Mandela service sign language interpreter: ‘He made up his own signs’
- Pope Francis named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
- Ben Affleck: Fundraising for Democrats started to ‘feel gross’
- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: ‘Lesbian capital’ of the Northeast
- Elian Gonzalez: It’s America’s fault that my mother died
- India top court rules homosexuality is illegal
Fans dispute Pocono Raceway’s claim of warning in fatal storm
LONG POND, Pa. — Brian Mattson and Tom Deacher climbed into their truck and got set to leave saturated Pocono Raceway. That’s when a lightning bolt slammed into a tent canopy just a couple of rows away from where they had parked, shooting off sparks like a Roman candle.
“When the tent collapsed, I knew it wasn’t right,” Deacher said.
The lightning strike was one of two that hit just outside the track Sunday during a confusing and tragic end to a day of racing. One of the bolts killed 41-year-old Brian Zimmerman, and a total of nine others were injured.
A day later, Pocono officials said they had warned fans to take cover when the weather turned nasty — even as stock cars continued to race around the track — but some fans insisted there had been no warning. Others took to Twitter and Facebook to say the announcements in the grandstands and camping areas to seek refuge in their cars came too late, after the worst of the rain hit the track.
“Mother Nature’s sneaky,” track President Brandon Igdalsky said. “You don’t know what she’s going to do.”
One of the other injured fans was listed in critical condition Sunday night but was upgraded to stable, Igdalsky said. The remaining eight people had been treated and released from the hospital.
“The individuals that were affected have spoken to the hospital folks, and they’re in good spirits,” Igdalsky said. “It’s just a freak incident. They said they had a great day and, boom, this happened to us.”
Track officials said the crowd of 85,000 was advised several times over public address systems and social media to take cover Sunday afternoon when storms threatened the area near the end of the race. They were checking their logs for details of those announcements.
But some posted on the raceway’s Facebook page that they never heard the weather warnings. One fan noted in a Twitter message to the Associated Press that the races are so loud fans can’t hear people near them, let alone the public address system.
NASCAR spokesman Dave Higdon said Monday that officials are reviewing how the track carried out its emergency procedures. He cautioned against rushing to judgment.
“Anytime something like this happens, we make sure we look at it again and see if there’s anything we should have done different,” Higdon said. “It’s never a good day for us when someone passes and people are hurt.”
A severe storm warning was issued for the area at 4:12 p.m., and NASCAR called the race at 4:54 p.m.
One bolt hit the grandstand parking area around 5 p.m. Sunday, killing Zimmerman and injuring eight others, Igdalsky said. A second possible strike came around 6:35 p.m., sending a ninth person to the hospital with minor injuries, he said.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- More than a quarter million sign up for Obamacare in November
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Human interest stories to feed interest, satisfy curiosity and see outside the box.
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
News and views on the Civil War.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow