Lightning strikes at NASCAR race in Pennsylvania kill 1, injure 9

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA (BNO NEWS) -- One person was killed and nine others were injured late Sunday when they were struck by lightning outside a National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) event in eastern Pennsylvania, officials said on Monday.

The lightning strikes were part of a storm that hit the area late Sunday afternoon when a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event was taking place at the Pocono International Raceway, which is located in the unincorporated community of Long Pond in Monroe County. The race had already been shortened due to the rain.

The first incident occurred at approximately 5:01 p.m. local time when a lightning strike struck property inside the Grandstand Parking area near Gate 5A. A Pocono Raceway Grandstand Fire unit which witnessed the strike immediately responded and provided first aid to the injured spectators.

"Within a matter of 3 minutes, medical personnel and additional emergency services reported on the scene and took control of treatment to individuals," said Pocono Raceway President Brandon Igdalsky. "EMT responders were approached by additional individuals who reported symptoms related to the lightning strike."

Igdalsky said nine people were struck by the lightning strike, including 41-year-old spectator Brian Zimmerman of Moosic, Pennsylvania. Zimmerman, who was leaning on his car when he was struck, was pronounced dead at around 7 p.m. local time by Dr. Peter Favini in the emergency room of Pocono Medical Center.

At approximately 6:35 p.m. local time, a second lightning strike struck in the vicinity of Gate 3, injuring one person. "The individual was immediately transported to Pocono Raceway's Infield Medical Center where [the person was] initially treated for minor injuries before being transported to Pocono Medical Center in Stroudsburg for further evaluation," Igdalsky said.

The condition of a person who was critically injured in the first lightning strike was upgraded to stable on Monday, although it was not immediately clear when he or she might be released. Several other victims had already been released by Monday morning, and the other victims were expected to be released later in the day.

"On behalf of the entire staff here at Pocono Raceway, we are deeply saddened by yesterday's tragic events," Igdalsky added. "As mentioned, our fans are like family to us and we express our deepest condolences to the individuals and families involved, especially Mr. Zimmerman's."

Landon Cassill, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver who participated in the event on Sunday afternoon, expressed his shock in a message on the social networking website Twitter. "My heart breaks for the fans that got struck by lightening today. I'm at a loss of words right now," he said following the incident.

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