Pocono Raceway President Makes Statement
TUNKHANNOCK TOWNSHIP — One day after the tragedy at the track, Pocono Raceway authorities are reviewing procedures that took place Sunday when bad weather was approaching.
NASCAR called off the race 42 minutes after the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning with a threat for lots of lightning.
Raceway officials say fans were alerted of the approaching weather and were asked to leave.
But as one fan was near his car, he was hit and killed by lightning.
Inside the grandstand parking area near Gate Five of Pocono Raceway is being investigated a day after a man was struck and killed by lightning after the Pennsylvania 400.
The man was Brian Zimmerman, 41, of Moosic.
Pocono Raceway President Brandon Igdalsky says Zimmerman was a longtime fan of the raceway.
“Our fans are like family to us and we express our deepest condolences to the individuals and families involved, especially Mr. Zimmerman’s,” said Igdalsky.
NASCAR has also released a statement on the tragedy:
“We are deeply saddened that a fan died and others were injured by lightning strikes following the race. Our thoughts are with them as well as all those affected by this unfortunate accident.”
Here’s the timeline of events according to raceway officials:
4:12 p.m. National weather service issued severe thunderstorm warning
4:54 p.m. NASCAR called the race
5:01 p.m. First lightning strike injured three, including Brian Zimmerman
6:11 p.m. Brian Zimmerman was pronounced dead
6:35 p.m . Second lightning strike injured seven
“If we get an alert, it goes out to the staff and we do our best to get it out to all the fans in attendance as well,” Igdalsky said.
Igdalsky says in the raceway’s announcements, they did advise the crowd to seek shelter in their cars.
Right now, raceway officials are investigating how many warnings were issued between the time the National Weather Service announced severe weather and when the race was called.
“We’re just trying to figure out exactly when those happened. Because some fans are saying they heard early, some are saying they didn’t hear early, so we’re going through all our logs when that went through,” added Igdalsky.
As for the nine other people injured by lightning strikes, they were all taken to area hospitals. Most are in stable condition and we know one has been released to go home.