NASCAR fans lucky to be alive in upper deck from debris that sailed over the fence
NASCAR continues to say nothing about the tire and debris that flew clear over the catch fence at Daytona last Saturday, striking people in the upper deck. Instead they are trying to blame the gate in the fence as the problem. Story from Sporting News follows......
Steve and Gaylene Johnson love racing and have attended many motorsports events over the last 15 years.
They didn't expect to get hit by flying debris from a crash — especially sitting about 30 rows up in the upper deck for the Feb. 23 Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
The Johnsons are still in Daytona Beach, recovering from their injuries after a 30-by-8 inch, 70-pound piece of steel — they're not sure if it was from a racecar or the catch fence — hit them during the frightening last-lap crash.
What they do know is that if it weren't for the people who helped them before paramedics arrived, they don't know if they would have survived to talk about their injuries.
"The strength of the impact when that hit me in the midsection, it was so tremendous that I was just completely without breath," Gaylene Johnson said.
"It hit me with such force. … We're very lucky to be alive. The fans saved our life."
At least 30 fans were injured when Kyle Larson's car got airborne and smashed into the catch fence on the final lap of the Nationwide race. Larson's car tore apart, showering the grandstands with debris, including a tire with suspension pieces attached. The engine of his car landed next to the catch fence on the spectator side.
"We were standing up, of course, at the finish of the race," Steve Johnson said. "When the accident occurred, we heard it.
"I was immediately struck in the head by a large piece of debris and knocked out of the row we were in into the row behind us. The same large piece of debris struck my wife from her hip up to her chest."
The Johnsons, in their 60s, spent three days in Halifax Health and have remained in Daytona Beach, not feeling well enough to drive home to Michigan.
Gaylene said she had a cut on her left arm that required 37 stitches and bruised intestines.
Steve said he has approximately 30 stitches in his head and left arm. He has a chipped tooth and a loose tooth. He said he escaped eye damage.
"I'm absolutely flabbergasted," Steve Johnson said. "My first thought when I was kind of picking myself up from the row that I landed in, I could not believe that it was possible that we were injured from a car on the track."
They also are in awe of the help they received from other fans. They are one of at least two families looking for fans who helped treat them before paramedics could arrive.
The Johnson were the couple being talked about by someone who called 9-1-1 saying that there were no paramedics around to treat them.
Gaylene said a nurse, an EMT named Smokey and a firefighter helped treat their wounds before the paramedics arrived.
"We would like to thank those people to give them our gratitude," Gaylene Johnson said. "I don't think (the track paramedics) thought the debris had gone that high.
"The three people with medical experience that helped us, without their help, I'm not sure we would have survived. They were holding pressure on wounds that were severe."
Also looking for fans is Becket McGinn, who remains in Halifax Health with his 14-year-old brother. They were both hit by Larson's tire, and McGinn has four broken ribs and several cuts while his brother has a collapsed lung, according to his tweets. Sporting News