13 spectators injured in wreck at Grand Prix of Houston

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by CBS News / AP / KHOU.com staff

Associated Press

Posted on October 6, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 7 at 11:15 AM

HOUSTON – Thirteen spectators were injured during a wreck on the final lap of the second race of the Grand Prix of Houston Sunday afternoon, officials said.

The race ended when Dario Franchitti’s car went airborne into the fence about halfway through the final lap at Reliant Park.

The Associated Press reported that the accident in Turn 5 happened when Franchitti made contact with Takuma Sato. Franchitti’s car launched over Sato’s and sailed into the fence, showering debris into the grandstand before Franchitti’s car came back onto the track.

E.J. Viso then hit Sato’s car.

Fan video sent into KHOU 11 News shows debris flying into the grandstand.

According to the Houston Fire Department, two of the 13 spectators that were injured were taken to the hospital to be evaluated.

The 11 other injured spectators were treated on site at Reliant Park, HFD officials said.

Franchitti was also taken to a hospital, but team owner Chip Ganassi said he was alert and complaining of a sore ankle and back.

After he was examined, doctors determined that he had a concussion, two fractured vertebrae that will not require surgery and a fracture to the right ankle, according to IndyCar officials.

Franchitti had surgery on his ankle was being held overnight. IndyCar said one series official was also taken to a hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

The accident in Turn 5 was reminiscent of Dan Wheldon’s fatal 2011 crash at Las Vegas in that competitors had to drive through the wreckage.

It was a sobering moment for race winner Will Power, who broke his back in Las Vegas crash, and for Scott Dixon, who took control of the IndyCar championship race Sunday but passed by teammate Franchitti’s car and waved in an attempt to get an update on his condition.

“The smells and the visuals, for me, and even talking to Will, you have the remnants of Vegas popping into your head with you coming around the corner and you can’t drive through it because there’s a field of debris,” Dixon said. “There was no near the amount of damage that we saw (in 2011), but seeing the replay was a big shock.”

Power initially seemed shaken when he climbed from his car and admitted the accident reminded him of Las Vegas, where he and Wheldon both sailed into the fence.

“I just saw Dario’s car and him sitting in it with a lot of damage, and yes, that’s what it reminded me of,” Power said. “I hate seeing that. We try to keep these cars on the ground.”

Mi-Jack Promotions, promoter of the Grand Prix of Houston, Reliant Park and IndyCar issued the following joint statement:

“Following an accident that occurred on-track at the Grand Prix of Houston this afternoon our greatest concern is for our fans and participants."

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