IndyCar racer Justin Wilson died on Monday, Aug. 24, after he was hit in the head on Sunday by a piece of debris during the Verizon IndyCar Series race in the Poconos, IndyCar confirmed in a statement. He was 37.
According to multiple outlets, the professional race car driver was hit by debris from a car in front of him on the track during the 179th lap of the 200-lap race. The car, driven by rookie Sage Karam, spun on its own and parts from the vehicle began littering the track, with one piece directly striking Wilson in the head. (IndyCar drivers are typically more vulnerable to head injuries than any other professional race car driver because of how their cars are modeled.)
Wilson was immediately transported via helicopter to a local hospital in nearby Allentown, Pa., where he remained in a coma and was listed under critical condition. He passed away on Monday.
“This is a monumentally sad day for IndyCar and the motorsports community as a whole,” Mark Miles, the CEO of IndyCar's parent company Hulman & Co., said in a statement on Monday. “Justin’s elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility — which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock. As we know, the racing industry is one big family, and our efforts moving forward will be focused on rallying around Justin’s family to ensure they get the support they need during this unbelievably difficult time.”
Wilson leaves behind his wife, Julia, and their two young daughters Jane, 7, and Jessica, 5. His family also released a statement on Monday, confirming his death.
"With deep sadness, the parents of Justin Wilson, Keith and Lynne, his wife Julia, and his brother Stefan share the news that Justin passed away today after succumbing to injuries suffered during the Verizon IndyCar event at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, August 23," the statement read on his official website.
"Justin was a loving father and devoted husband, as well as a highly competitive racing driver who was respected by his peers. The family would like to thank the staff at the Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital, Pocono Raceway, Andretti Autosport, and the Verizon IndyCar Series as well as the entire racing community for the amazing outpouring of support from fans around the world. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Wilson Children’s Fund care of INDYCAR."
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