IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti, fans injured in crash - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti, fans injured in crash

Posted:

Courtesy ABC News

ABC News' Ryan Owens and Roger Lee report:

A horrific crash during the final lap of the Houston Grand Prix sent three-time Indianapolis 500 winnerDario Franchitti's car airborne into a fence that scattered debris into the crowd, injuring 13 people.

Franchitti, 40, was admitted awake and alert to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center in Houston Sunday afternoon for a concussion, spinal fracture and a fractured right ankle, according to IndyCar.  Franchitti is expected to be released from the hospital later this morning.

Three of the 13 fans were also taken to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center but "do not appear to be in serious condition," according to a hospital spokesman. Firefighters treated most of the injured at the scene.

"Officials are investigating the incident and currently do not have further information at this time. Fan and driver safety are always a primary concern, and we will provide further details as they are available," IndyCar said in a statement.

Sunday's crash comes 10 days shy of the two-year anniversary of the death of Dan Wheldon, who crashed in Las Vegas during the IZOD IndyCar World Championship. Wheldon was killed after a 15-car wreck, and his car was launched hundreds of feet through the air and hit a fence. An autopsy concluded that Wheldon died of blunt force trauma to the head after striking a post.

After Wheldon's fatal accident, many tracks across the nation reinforced their catch fences.

Sunday's accident occurred after contact between Franchitti and Takuma Sato sent Franchitti's car launching over Sato's and into the fence. Parts and pieces from both cars flew into the grandstand, and Franchitti's badly damaged car bounced back onto the track.

"Debris flew literally inches from my head. It was a big chunk of tire but did fly inches from my head, so my family was really shaken up," fan Krista Weaver said.

Eyewitnesses say some fans were pinned under the damaged catch fence.

"The piece of fence had landed to where a lady was trapped underneath it. She was crawling underneath the fence to get out," spectator Paul Basaldua said.

Franchitti is the estranged husband of actress Ashley Judd. The two have been married for 12 years but separated in January.

"Thank you for the prayers for @dariofranchitti. I have only clothes on my back and the dogs but that's all that we need and we are on our way," the actress tweeted Sunday.

Auto racing is a fast and dangerous sport where even the spectators are at risk of injury. This past February, Kyle Larson's car went airborne into a catch fence at Daytona International Raceway during a NASCAR race, scattering wreckage and injuring 28 fans.

After that crash, a concerned Franchitti tweeted, "It's time @Indycar @Nascar other sanctioning bodies and promoters work on an alternative to catch fencing. There has to be a better solution."

Read on ABC News

  • Family Searches for Missing Man

    Family Searches for Missing Man

    An Aransas Pass family is searching for their loved one who went missing in Brooks County. His family says it's the last thing he said on the phone that has them fearing for his life. 20 year old Eric Samora reportedly called his family two weeks ago saying he was running for his life through the brush near Falfurrias and didn't know where he was at. That's when the phone went dead. Anayeli Ruiz spoke with the young man's family and has the story.More >>
    An Aransas Pass family is searching for their loved one who went missing in Brooks County. His family says it's the last thing he said on the phone that has them fearing for his life. 20 year old Eric Samora reportedly called his family two weeks ago saying he was running for his life through the brush near Falfurrias and didn't know where he was at. That's when the phone went dead. Anayeli Ruiz spoke with the young man's family and has the story.More >>
  • Military Matters: Mission Smile

    Military Matters: Mission Smile

    Making sure our men and women in uniform are in tip top shape, also means making sure they have good dental hygiene. In our Military Matters report, Sarah Acosta introduces us to the team from the Navy Dental Corps stationed at NASCC. The Navy Dental Corps celebrated its one hundred and second birthday this month. The organization was established in 1912 and nowadays there are more than twenty-five hundred active reserve duty corps personnel. There are three Navy Dental Corps officers at t...More >>
    Making sure our men and women in uniform are in tip top shape, also means making sure they have good dental hygiene. In our Military Matters report, Sarah Acosta introduces us to the team from the Navy Dental Corps stationed at NASCC. The Navy Dental Corps celebrated its one hundred and second birthday this month. The organization was established in 1912 and nowadays there are more than twenty-five hundred active reserve duty corps personnel. There are three Navy Dental Corps officers at t...More >>
  • "A Lady Never Reveals her True Age" -Lena Coleman-Wilson

    "A Lady Never Reveals her True Age" -Lena Coleman-Wilson

    Lena Coleman-Wilson has dedicated her life to helping others. This weekend, Lena, who has done so much for the community was in for a surprise of her own. A birthday surprise that is! Coleman-Wilson said, "my husband really put one over on me. He didn't tell me nothing about this. It's just so beautiful. I feel like i'm floating on air, i'm just so happy." Coleman-Wilson, is the former president of the NAACP and volunteer to several other local organizations over the years. Folks from all ov...More >>
    Lena Coleman-Wilson has dedicated her life to helping others. This weekend, Lena, who has done so much for the community was in for a surprise of her own. A birthday surprise that is! Coleman-Wilson said, "my husband really put one over on me. He didn't tell me nothing about this. It's just so beautiful. I feel like i'm floating on air, i'm just so happy." Coleman-Wilson, is the former president of the NAACP and volunteer to several other local organizations over the years. Folks from all ov...More >>