A part careening off a crashed race car struck IndyCar driver Justin Wilson in the head, leading to severe injuries that left him in a coma and ultimately killed him, the racing league said Monday.
The nose cone of driver Sage Karam’s car flew off after he crashed Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, and struck Wilson in the head. Wilson’s No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda then hit a wall before coming to rest on the track.
Unlike NASCAR vehicles, IndyCar vehicles have an open cockpit, leaving racers more exposed.
The accident happened with 21 laps left in the ABC Supply 500.
Wilson, 37, was flown to Lehigh Valley Health Network-Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he later died, according to IndyCar.
Karam was also taken to the hospital for evaluation of a foot injury. It was unclear if he was admitted.
Hospital spokesman Brian Downs referred questions Monday to IndyCar
Karam tweeted Sunday that he was “thinking and praying” for Wilson and his family.
Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the race, said the accident looked terrifying.
“Just to be an innocent bystander like that and get hit in the head with a nose cone is a scary thought,” Hunter-Reay said.
“He has a family, just like I do. He’s a great friend, a teammate. Can’t say enough about the guy on and off the racetrack.”