News

Dozens injured, driver Franchitti hospitalized in Indy Car crash

Dozens injured, driver Franchitti hospitalized in Indy Car crash

INDY CAR CRASH: Safety team members work to remove Dario Franchitti, of Scotland, from his car after a crash during the second IndyCar Grand Prix of Houston auto race, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Houston. Photo: Associated Press/AP Photo/Juan DeLeon

(Reuters) – A terrifying crash put three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti in a Houston hospital with a spinal fracture on Sunday and left over a dozen spectators injured.

Franchitti’s car went airborne and destroyed a portion of the catch fence at the Grand Prix of Houston, sending shards of debris into the packed grandstands where spectators were on their feet cheering the race’s final lap.

The 40-year-old Briton, who also suffered a concussion and broken ankle, was awake and alert when he was sent to hospital, where he will stay overnight but not require surgery for the spinal fracture, IndyCar said in a statement.

“He’s talking,” Chip Ganassi, team owner of the car that Franchitti drives, said during a television interview. “His ankle is a little sore. His back is a little sore. He’s going to take a trip to the hospital, but he is OK.”

The crash came less than eight months after nearly 30 fans were injured at the Daytona International Speedway when a 10-car crash sent debris, including a tire, into the crowd during the final lap of a Nationwide NASCAR race.

It is also nearly two years since the motor racing world was left reeling when one of Franchitti’s best friends, fellow Briton Dan Wheldon, died after a fierce 15-car crash in the IndyCar season-finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Franchitti made contact with Japanese drive Takuma Sato on one of the final turns, sending the four-time IndyCar champion’s car airborne into the protective fence before spinning several times, while debris was sprayed toward the grandstands.

“On the last lap I caught the marbles and brushed the wall and lost momentum,” Sato said. “A couple cars passed me as I was off line and in turn five. I got very loose and Dario and I came together. Hopefully Dario is OK.”

An IndyCar official and two spectators were transported to hospital for evaluation, according to the auto-racing body, while the Houston Chronicle reported 11 other spectators were evaluated on-site.

Franchitti is a four-time IndyCar Series Champion in his fifth season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing alongside two-time champion Scott Dixon.

The native of Scotland has 261 starts under his belt in Indy Car racing and made headlines last January when he and American actress Ashley judd announced they were ending their marriage after 11 years.

“Thank you for the prayers for @dariofranchitti I have only clothes on my back & the dogs but that’s all that we need & we are on our way,” Judd said on her Twitter site.

Recent Headlines

in National, World

Israel intensifies Gaza assault, Egyptians revise truce plan

A Palestinian firefighter reacts as he tries to put out a fire at Gaza's main power plant, which witnesses said was hit in Israeli shelling, in the central Gaza Strip July 29, 2014.

Israel knocked out Gaza's only power plant, while Egyptian mediators prepared a revised proposal for halting its war with Islamist militants in the enclave.

in Local

Former NYC Councilman convicted of bribery

gavel

The U.S. attorney's office says former New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran has been convicted of bribery charges.

in Local

NY commits $27M to grow wood heat industry

cuomo

Governor Cuomo has launched a $27 million initiative to build the market for high-efficiency wood heating systems in New York.

in Local

IFD equipped with anti-overdose drug

syringe

As New York State continues to battle the problem of heroin and opioid abuse, local emergency responders have a tool to combat the issue.

in Local

DEC warns of toxic giant hogweed

Local_News41-620x400

If you come across a plant that's as tall as a house and topped with umbrella-shaped white flower clusters, don't touch it. It might be giant hogweed, which can cause blistering and blindness.