CONCORD, N.C., May 2, 1999 -- In a press conference today at Lowe's Motor Speedway, track officials provided updates on the conditions of the injured spectators and further details on the accident that occurred May 1 during the VisionAire ...
CONCORD, N.C., May 2, 1999 -- In a press conference today at Lowe's Motor Speedway, track officials provided updates on the conditions of the injured spectators and further details on the accident that occurred May 1 during the VisionAire 500.
"There were three fatalities," said Doug Stafford, executive vice president of Lowe's Motor Speedway. "Two of the victims have been identified as Randy Dale Payatte, 21, from Connelly Springs, N.C., and Jeff Patton, also of Connelly Springs. "It is our understanding that these two victims are related and were attending the event together with other family members. The name of third victim is still being withheld as speedway and local law enforcement agencies are still trying to contact the victim's family.
"Eight other spectators were transported to three area hospitals," Stafford said. "Three people - Wesley James Rice of Newton, N.C., Matthew J. Picklesimer of Claremont, N.C., and Amanda Ryan Shondelmyer of Hickory, N.C., were transported to University Medical Center in Charlotte. All three were treated and released early this morning. Three people were treated and released from Northeast Medical Center in Concord during the night. The three released were Huburt Duncan of Newton, N.C.; Chad Gregory Duncan of Conover, N.C.; and Nathaniel Blosser of Hickory, N.C. The other two spectators were airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Jeremy Jones from Connelly Springs, N.C., was released mid-morning, and Hailey McGee, from Conover, is listed as critical."
No final determinations have been made on the cause of the accident involving drivers Stan Wattles and John Paul Jr., nor have conclusions been made on what debris from which car entered the stands. Pep Boys Indy Racing League and Lowe's Motor Speedway officials are attempting to reconstruct the accident.
"It has been a heartbreaking, terrible tragedy," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway. "Our entire emphasis is on the families and relatives involved, and we are working to console them any way we can."
Lowe's Motor Speedway is establishing a trust for the families of those involved and will allow ticketholders to contribute their ticket refunds from the event to the trust. Details regarding the fund will be released Monday.
"Obviously, our condolences go out to the families and friends of those involved during this difficult time," said Tony George, founder of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League. "We appreciate all of the people who attended to the needs of the spectators in the stands, and cannot say enough about the level of comfort and care provided in this situation."
The Pep Boys Indy Racing League will determine later this week the official scoring status of the race, which was stopped on Lap 79.