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Lightning Strike at Pennsylvania Racetrack Raises Concern of Spectator Safety

As severe thunderstorms rolled through the area on Sunday, 85,000 fans were sitting in stands and in the infield at the Pocono Raceway watching the Pennsylvania 400 NASCAR race.  For the safety of the drivers and the fans, the race was called off, but it was too late – two lightning strikes hit 10 spectators.

According to WNEP, the Monroe County EMA alert system issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the area at 4:12 p.m. NASCAR stopped the race at 4:54 p.m. The first lightning strike was shortly after 5 p.m., killing one man and injuring eight others. The second strike was reported at 6:35 p.m., injuring one person.

Officials with the Pocono Raceway and NASCAR are investigating the hour leading up to the tragedy.  While the racetrack officials contend warnings were issued, some of the attendees are disputing that claim.  Philly.com reports some attendees said there were no audible warnings given to spectators during the closing stages of the race. Track officials said announcements were made over the public address system and via social media.

“Some fans are saying they heard it early,” said Brandon Igdalsky, President & CEO of Pocono Raceway. “Some are saying they didn’t hear it early. So we’re going through all our logs and records.”

David Higdon, a NASCAR spokesman, said its emergency procedures for such occurrences also were being reviewed.

“Anytime something like this happens, we make sure we look at it again and see if there’s anything we should have done different,” Higdon said.

On Monday, Pocono Raceway posted an announcement from Igdalsky on its website addressing the lightning strike.  Following is an excerpt:

We work in conjunction with NASCAR regarding the safety of fans, teams and other attendees throughout the course of our race weekends. Additionally, we are in constant communication with local and national agencies regarding weather conditions and emergency services.

The safety of all guests to Pocono Raceway is of the utmost importance to our entire staff. This tragic event is at the forefront of all of our thoughts and prayers. We will learn from the incident and continue to implement strategies to help ensure the safety of fans and all attendees at future events at Pocono Raceway.

The Pocono Raceway has established the Pennsylvania 400 Memorial Fund to benefit the victims of the lighting strike tragedy.

Our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys urge all sports fans to stay alerted of weather conditions and to heed the warnings of organizers in the event of pending severe weather.  For your safety, you should seek shelter immediately.

About Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys

Munley Law is a Pennsylvania accident and injury law firm that represents car accident victims and their families throughout the state of Pennsylvania and the Northeast, including those injured in accidents that involve speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, fatigued driving, aggressive driving and careless driving in hazardous weather conditions. The Pennsylvania personal injury law firm’s additional practice areas include trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, toxic chemicals, workplace injuries, nursing home litigation and other serious accidents. To contact the law firm, use the firm’s online contact form.

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