Medlen dies

UPDATE #3 Eric Medlen, 33, who had emerged as one of the most popular young drivers in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, succumbed Friday afternoon to injuries suffered when his race car crashed into a guardwall during a Monday test session at Gainesville Raceway.

The talented Funny Car driver never regained consciousness. After being treated at the track, he was transported by ShandsCair helicopter to Shands at the University of Florida medical center where medical staff treated him for four days for a severe closed head injury.

"Eric suffered from severe traumatic brain injury with diffuse axonal injury, or DAI," said Dr. Joseph Layon, Professor of Anesthesiology, Surgery and Medicine and the Chief of Critical Care Medicine at UF. "Survival rates associated with DAI are low.

"On Tuesday, UF and Shands neurosurgery team performed a cranjectomy and removed the front portion of the skull to relieve pressure and attempt to improve blood flow to the brain," Dr. Layon explained. "Despite receiving the most aggressive treatment, Eric continued to have uncontrollable intracranial pressure. His body lost the ability to manage it's salt and water levels and he began displaying the complicating factors associated with DAI.

"That is when Eric's family elected to honor Eric's wishes and remove him from the artificial life support systems. Our hearts go out to Eric's loved ones."

"On behalf of the family, I want to thank the medical staff at Shands not just for giving Eric the very best care he could have received, but for the compassion it showed for Eric and all those close to him," said his father, John Medlen. "I also want to thank the thousands of people who offered their prayers and support to us during this very difficult time."

03/23/07 While medical personnel at Shands at the University of Florida medical center continue to monitor the progress of injured Funny Car driver Eric Medlen, team sponsor BP/Castrol announced Thursday the creation of a special e-mail address at which well wishers can leave messages of encouragement for the 33-year-old drag racer.

Medlen, injured last Monday in a testing accident at Gainesville Raceway, still was in critical condition Thursday after enduring a delicate craniotomy procedure on Tuesday. For at least two more weeks, he will remain in a drug-induced coma designed to promote healing.

Castrol SYNTEC, Medlen's primary sponsor in his first three seasons on the NHRA POWERade tour, has announced that it will print and assemble all messages left at the e-mail address and present them later to the driver and his family.

Castrol also will make available at NHRA national events and at the upcoming Mid-America Trucking Show (Louisville, Ky.), posters bearing a likeness of the popular driver on which fans can print personal messages. Those posters also will be presented to the Medlen family according to Lori Anne Gola, assistant sponsorship manager for Castrol.

"There are so many people who care about Eric," Ms. Gola said, "and we wanted to find a tangible way to show him all of that love and support. We thought that, through this e-mail address, we could capture the prayers, kind thoughts and well wishes of all those who empathize with Eric and his family."

03/21/07 Injured NHRA Funny Car driver Eric Medlen survived a delicate, three-hour craniotomy procedure to relive pressure and hemorrhaging Tuesday evening but remained in critical condition Wednesday at Shands at the University of Florida medical center.

Over the next two weeks, the 33-year-old will remain in a drug-induced coma designed to promote healing.

“We consider ourselves fortunate that Eric is in one of the top hospitals in the world for this type of injury and is getting absolutely the best treatment possible," said John Medlen, Eric’s father and crew chief.

“We want to thank Eric’s friends, fans, sponsors and the entire NHRA drag racing community for their support in this very difficult time for our family," he said. “We would ask that they continue to remember Eric in their prayers. He’s a fighter, but he has a long battle ahead of him."

The elder Medlen also asked, for Eric’s sake and the sake of the family, that fans refrain from speculation, especially on the internet, where erroneous information already has been a source of considerable anguish.

03/20/07 Funny Car driver Eric Medlen, injured in a testing accident Monday at Gainesville Raceway, remained in critical condition Tuesday in intensive care at Shands at the University of Florida medical center.

According to Medlen’s father, John, doctors are continuing to work to reduce pressure and swelling from what has been characterized as a severe closed head injury suffered when the 33-year-old’s car crashed heavily into the guardrail.

“We would ask everyone to keep Eric and his family in their prayers while at the same time respecting their need for privacy in this very difficult time," said Kelly Antonelli, a spokesperson for John Force Racing, Inc.

“Obviously, our primary concern is for Eric’s health," Antonelli said, “but we also are aware of erroneous information that has been posted on various Internet sites and, unfortunately, that has been a source of additional pain for the family.

“To address that issue, we will continue to provide daily medical updates authorized by the family and the medical staff here at Shands."

John Force Racing media contact:
Dave Densmore
John Force Racing

DAN DAVIS, DIRECTOR, FORD RACING TECHNOLOGY, COMMENTS ON ERIC MEDLEN'S ACCIDENT: "We're obviously devastated with the news of Eric's injuries, and we – along with so many others – are hoping and praying for a complete recovery. Eric's a great person and a great competitor, and we at Ford Racing are here to support him, his family, and the entire John Force Racing team any way we can."

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