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 SportingNews.com 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.
ATTENTION FANS: Be advised, seek shelter as severe lightning and heavy winds are in our area.
— Pocono Raceway (@poconoraceway) August 5, 2012
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."