Monday, August 6, 2012

Statement by Pocono Raceway president on lightning strikes

   Statement made Monday by Pocono Raceway president and CEO Brandon Igdalsky:

   As reported yesterday, a long time member of our Pocono Raceway family, a spectator has passed away following a lightning strike. According to Monroe County Coroner Robert Allen the name of the deceased is 41 year old Moosic, Pennsylvania resident Brian Zimmerman. Additionally, nine other individuals were transferred to local hospitals as a result of two separate lightning strikes.
    On behalf of the entire staff here at Pocono Raceway, we are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic events. As mentioned, our fans are like family to us and we express our deepest condolences to the individuals and families involved, especially Mr. Zimmerman’s.
    NASCAR regarding safety of fans, teams and other attendees throughout the course of our race weekends. Additionally, we are in constant communication with local and national agencies regarding weather conditions and emergency services.
    At approximately 5:01 p.m. Eastern Time, the first lightning strike occurred on property inside our Grandstand Parking area, located near Gate 5A. A Pocono Raceway Grandstand Fire unit was stationed in the vicinity and witnessed the actual strike. The response was immediate as the unit reported the incident to our control tower and advised spectators were injured. CPR was started immediately to Mr. Zimmerman by a friend on the scene.

   Within a matter of 3 minutes, medical personnel and additional emergency services reported on the scene and took control of treatment to individuals. EMT responders were approached by additional individuals who reported symptoms related to the lightning strike. Those affected were taken to the Raceway Medical Centers, where they were examined and transported to local area hospitals for treatment and further evaluation. A total of nine individuals were treated as a result of the initial lightning strike.
    At approximately 6:35 p.m. Eastern Time, the control tower was notified of a second possible lightning strike in the vicinity near Gate 3. The individual was immediately transported to Pocono Raceway’s Infield Medical Center where they were initially treated for minor injuries before being transported to Pocono Medical Center in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania for further evaluation.
    As stated last night at 7:40 p.m. Eastern Time, Mr. Zimmerman was confirmed as deceased. Additional information regarding the other nine individuals involved was not yet available.

   At this point in time, the one individual that was in critical condition has now been upgraded to stable. Some have been treated and released. Others involved are pending release as early as today and all are in good spirits.
    The safety of all guests to Pocono Raceway is of the utmost importance to our entire staff. This tragic event is at the forefront of all of our thoughts and prayers. We will learn from the incident and continue to implement strategies to help ensure the safety of fans and all attendees at future events at Pocono Raceway.
   We are in the process of establishing a Memorial Fund for victims of this incident. More information will be released a soon as possible.

1 comment:

  1. I was watching on TV - well, actually, I was flipping between the race and a baseball game, as any race at Pocono can only be taken in small doses - and noted how quickly the race was called once the red flag came out. I'm not sure how much more proactive the track could have been. Once the rain came and the cars were parked, the spectators had to at least have a good idea that it was over. Pocono doesn't have lightsand a track that large and flat would take at least 3 hours to dry. At some point, people have to take charge of their own destiny. "Let's see - it's 4:30, it's raining, it will keep raining for a while, this track probably takes 3 hours to dry, there are no lights. This thing is over, let's go home." But what are we seeing? People that sat around, waiting for someone else to tell them to leave, and then blaming that someone else for a resulting tragedy. I'm not inclined to blame the track for this one.