Jack Durbin - motorsport.com
IRL driver Sam Schmidt, actor Christopher Reeve, and CART driver Emerson Fittipaldi each have suffered the same spinal injury: the third and fourth vertebrae were fractured. Reeve whose spinal cord was pinched is still a quadriplegic. Fittipaldi did not pinch his spinal cord and has full use of his body.
Schmidt's spinal cord was pinched between the vertebrae in the accident during testing at Disney World Speedway in preparation for the January 29th opening Indy Racing League event. Today he remains in an Orlando, Florida hospital, with no feeling below his neck.
According to Fred Treadway, Schmidt's car owner, Sam backed the car in the wall at a 90-degree angle and "it hit so hard the front wheels were bent backwards but the gearbox came apart like it's supposed to. Sam doesn't have a broken bone or a bruise on his body and the car did its job."
At present the long term prognosis for Schmidt is not good, he may well remain a quadriplegic. However Ruthie Culbertson, Treadway Team spokesperson says, "all hope is not gone."
"Everyone's spinal cord is different (according to the doctors) and there isn't an exact prognosis on what Sam's recovery will be," said Culbertson. "The doctors are being realistic that our odds aren't the greatest--but with modern medicine, you just don't know. We are keeping the faith over here and at this point--only time will tell. But our hope at Treadway Racing combined with the Schmidt family's --is NOT gone."
"On an encouraging note, he was able to shrug his shoulders last night, and was off the respirator for over 8 hours the day before. They have moved him into a sitting position and he is able to speak by mouthing words to the nurses and his family," said Culbertson. "Sometime in the next few days, they will switch his trach tube so that he will be able to speak--and if I know Sam, he won't stop speaking after that." He remains on the ventilator at Orlando Regional Medical center, "and the doctors aren't giving us much encouragement regarding his condition. However, as with all spinal injuries--we still don't know what types of time frames we are working with. I can tell you that this is going to be a long haul, and we should have a better sense of what we are dealing with when we have him transferred to a rehabiliation facility. We are hoping to transfer him in the next 3-4 days."
Schmidt, who sustained serious foot injuries in the Texas IRL finale last fall, had been cleared to drive early December according to Treadway.
The Schmidt family is encouraging well wishers to send donations in Sam's name to either CARA Charities or IRL Ministries in care of:
Ruthie Culbertson Treadway Racing LLC 6017 W. 71st St. Indianapolis, IN 46278
Donations are encouraged in lieu of flowers and gifts.
Cards can be sent to:
Sam Schmidt Treadway Racing LLC 6017 W. 71st St. Indianapolis, IN 46278