Aug 5, 2012; Long Pond, PA, USA; Fans take cover during a rain delay before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

One Killed, Nine Injured After Lightning Strike At NASCAR Pocono Race

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Statement: Pocono Raceway President Comments On Lightning Strikes

The following is a statement released by Pocono Raceway president Brandon Igdalsky on Monday afternoon:

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.

We work in conjunction with 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 up establishing a Memorial Fund is for victims of this incident. More information will be released a soon as possible.


NASCAR Fan Says Lightning Struck 50 Feet From Her Car At Pocono

Dawn Golon, a NASCAR fan from New Jersey, saw bad weather coming toward the end of Sunday's Pocono race and left the grandstands while the cars were still on the track. She arrived at her car just as the skies opened up and got safely inside the vehicle before the worst of the storm.

A few minutes later, fans standing approximately 50 feet away from Golon's car were not so lucky. At the height of the raging storm, lightning suddenly struck the area near her vehicle. Lightning strikes killed one person and injured nine others in the aftermath of the race.

"This lightning bolt came down, and it shook the whole car," she said. "The whole area lit up. I looked to my right where it came from, but the storm was still at its peak at that point. I couldn't see anything."

When the storm passed, Golon again looked toward the spot where she thought the lightning struck. This time, she could see the flashing red lights of emergency services vehicles and people gathered around.

She got out of her car and ran over to see if she could help, but encountered a scene that was "just chaos." There were people injured on the ground, and she saw emergency personnel performing CPR on one victim.

"It was awful," Golon said Monday morning via phone. "I'm going to start crying again talking about it. It was just horrible. I just can't get it out of my head.

"The victim's wife, or whoever he was with, she was just in shock. She kept saying, 'This can't be, this can't happen.' I was a wreck just seeing that. I've never seen something like that right there in front of us."

Golon spoke to one fan – a man named Tommy (she didn't get his last name) – who swore the lightning struck his vehicle first. Tommy was inside his truck with "four or five children," Golon said, when the lightning hit. No one in the truck was injured, but it shredded the antenna in a way that looked like someone peeled it.

Tommy told Golon the lightning hit his vehicle and then deflected backward toward people standing behind him.

"He said he looked in rear-view mirror and everyone was on the ground," Golon said. "He ran out and was the first one who started CPR. He said he didn't know what he was doing, but he felt he just had to do something. I wish we had gotten his last name, because he really jumped in and helped."

Tommy's truck – and several other vehicles around him – appeared to be incapacitated by the lightning strike. None of them would start afterward, Golon said.

Golon said she wasn't warned by the track to leave, but said everyone around her knew the storm was coming. They did not know the severity, she said, but she called it a "freak accident." She also praised the EMS personnel for arriving on the scene so quickly.

But she was shaken by the whole incident and said the incident was going to stick with her for a long time.

"He was just one of the NASCAR fans, just like us," she said. "It could have been anybody. For it to be that close, I definitely have a newfound respect for lightning. I think you just think you're never going to get hit. It's never going to happen. It's very hard to comprehend."


Opinion: NASCAR, Racetracks Must Change Approach After Lightning Strike

NASCAR should change how it handles the threat of severe weather in the wake of Sunday's fatal lightning strike at Pocono Raceway.


One Killed, Nine Injured By Lightning Strike After NASCAR Race At Pocono

One person was killed and nine others were hospitalized Sunday after a lightning strike associated with a severe storm hit Pocono Raceway as fans sought shelter following the conclusion of the rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400 NASCAR race.

As the skies opened over the track, NASCAR called the race and fans were advised to find shelter. But lightning struck the parking lot and other areas around the track as fans ran to their cars, killing one and criticially injuring another. Eight others were hospitalized.

Race fan Kyle Manger told he witnessed the lightning strike in the parking lot after the race.

"Me and my friend just ran into our truck during all the nasty weather," Manger told the web site. "The visibility was very poor and all of a sudden (I) saw a bolt of lightning right in front of our windshield.

"When it became a little more visible, we saw two bodies next to a destroyed tent with people scrambling."

The storm's arrival was forecasted and anticipated for hours, but officials kept the race going until the cell was directly over the track. At that point, fans were urged to seek shelter.

Race winner Jeff Gordon said he was walking on pit road after when he heard a "huge, huge crack from lightning."

"You could tell it was very close," he said. "I mean, that's the thing that's going to take away from the victory, is the fact that somebody was affected by that. The fans here are so loyal and avid.

"That's just so unfortunate because they're so loyal and avid here, so you hate to hear something like that. Certainly our thoughts are with them. I hope everything is OK there."


NASCAR At Pocono: Injuries Reported After Lightning Strikes Parking Lot Following Race

Shortly after the conclusion of Sunday's rain-shortened NASCAR race at Pocono Raceway, three fans were reportedly struck by lightning in the parking lot while retreating to their cars. Their condition is unknown, according to reports from the track.

The area had been under a severe thunderstorm warning and officials had plenty of notice that a storm was approaching, but cars remained on the track until the weather was directly over the venue.

UPDATE (6:15 EDT): A Pocono Raceway spokesperson told reporters that three people were struck by lightning. Two were transported to a local hospital and a third was treated and released at the scene.

While details are scarce, here are some tweets from the immediate aftermath of the lightning strike:

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