Birmingham, Ala. (April 20, 2002) - Roush Racing owner Jack Roush is listed in critical but stable condition at the intensive care unit at University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center after being injured in a plane crash late Friday afternoon...
Birmingham, Ala. (April 20, 2002) - Roush Racing owner Jack Roush is listed in critical but stable condition at the intensive care unit at University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center after being injured in a plane crash late Friday afternoon near Troy, Ala.
Roush suffered closed head injuries but, according to his physician, he is "following commands." Other injuries include minor chest and internal injuries and fractures to his lower extremities.
All Roush Racing teams scheduled to race this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway will do so as planned, including Greg Biffle, who will start today's Busch Grand National Race. Drivers Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch will compete in Sunday's Winston Cup competition.
Geoff Smith, president of Roush Racing, met with the media at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday morning to provide an update on the condition of Jack Roush, who was injured in a plane crash Friday night. Smith was joined in the infield media center by Roush Racing drivers Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch.
Geoff Smith, President, Roush Racing
"Yesterday was Jack Roush's 60th birthday, which he was celebrating in a style that we would expect of Jack, which was with friends, flying aircraft. As you heard, the aircraft that Jack was flying as the sole passenger and pilot, crashed and Jack received serious injuries and was taken to the University of Alabama at Birmingham hospital. Today he is in critical but stable condition. He has suffered a closed-head injury, which is the most serious of the injuries that he has, we're told. However, we are very encouraged by the fact that he is able to follow commands and respond to the commands that he is given. He also has two leg fractures, which we are expecting to be set this afternoon. We are told to be guarded about the head injury for the next 48 hours because circumstances can change in that regard. In the meantime, Roush Racing is an organization that has many senior managers in engineering and fabulous race-car drivers and managers, and all of us, from our boss, Jack Roush, have the understanding in our lives that we are to go forward and compete this weekend, which is what we're all prepared to do and have been practicing.
"We'd like very much to acknowledge a man named Larry Hicks, whom I've yet to meet and we're trying to contact. Larry is the gentleman that pulled Jack out of the water and resuscitated him. Without Larry and the efforts of the Troy Police and the emergency response team, we wouldn't be feeling as positive as we do at this moment."
"That's the extent of our remarks. Does anyone have a particular question. We'll open it up for a couple of minutes."
WHAT TYPE OF PLANE WAS IT? "It was not Jack's P-51, that was speculated. It's called an twin-engine air cam, and we do not know the details of what precipitated the accident. I don't know what the configuration of the plane, the weight, the characteristics, other than it's a form of an experimental aircraft that has a use related to photography. It's used for photography. Mark [Martin] knows much more about that. We're going to be expecting information back on all of the circumstances surrounding what happened later on down the road."
WHERE WAS HE COMING FROM AND WHERE WAS HE GOING? "I don't know. We don't know from the people that he was with exactly what airport he left from, where he was going. I believe they were rotating aircraft as part of his birthday enjoyment."
WAS HE WITHIN RADIO CONTACT OF AN AIR-TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER? "We don't have the detail on any of the airplane-crash circumstances or details. When we get that information or people that are more informed than we are we'll let you know."
ARE THE PEOPLE HE WAS VISITING FROM TROY? "I just know that he was with friends, these are friends that live in the Atlanta area and there may have been other people that they were visiting in the Troy area."
WHO'S INVESTIGATING THE CRASH? "We don't know who's been assigned to investigate it at the present time. We're waiting for - the FAA's going to tell us who that is."
HAVE YOU SEEN HIM? "I have not seen him yet, but there are the doctors and several visitors have confirmed with their own observation that acknowledgments that he makes, either through recognition by hand squeeze or, he's on a respirator so he can't verbalize his responses."
CAN THEY SPECULATE HOW LONG HE WAS UNDER WATER? "There's no date for us to determine that whatsoever at this point in time, although it's a possibility."
WERE THERE ANY BURNS? "None was reported, other than the fellow that did the rescue suffered some kind of burning and we don't know what that was."
DID ANY OF THE DRIVERS SEE JACK? "Jeff and Mark have been in, were in last night."
Mark Martin-6-Pfizer Taurus:
"He had great color, looked pretty beat up. That's really all I can say. I know that everybody wants answers right now, believe me, I know and understand all that, but in situations like this, you have to wait. Last night it was going to be 24 hours before anything at all could be determined, and we've had some earlier positive signs, they came sooner than that."
HOW'S THE FAMILY? "Hanging in there, I guess, under the circumstances."
HOW ARE THE DRIVERS? "Well, we've all worked with a man who is completely and totally driven, and one of the things that earned us the opportunity to work with him was our same kind of drive. We're all the kind of people that like to take care of our business, and that's what he wants us to do, and that's what we'll do. Our greatest concern is for his health and all, but in the meantime we will take care of business because the guy's got eyes in the back of his head. We'd be in trouble if we didn't."
HOW DID JACK LET YOU KNOW THAT HE KNEW YOU WERE VISITING? "He didn't. I didn't know the details and couldn't find out the details of the accident, and the things that I had heard that surrounded the accident didn't make a lot of sense to me and I wasn't convinced that it was Jack. I had to see to know. Because we were ahead of the details, we got to the hospital, Jeff and I got to the hospital before Jack did. Of course, Jack went to the Troy hospital first, and that was transferred to Birmingham, and Jeff and I got to the hospital before Jack did and before his friends got there as well, so the information that were getting was not exactly accurate and didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Maybe I was a little bit in shock, but I wanted to see for myself for sure that it was Jack, because they had said that he was in an ultralight, and if I know Jack Roush as well as I know him, he wouldn't flying an ultralight, so I couldn't hardly believe it. So that was inaccurate."
DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE PLANE? "I don't, I just had it explained to me. Jeff and I did talk to the owner of the aircraft, which was a friend of Jack's. I'm not aware of what it is other than a small twin-engine airplane that was built for National Geographic to do photographing, and that's why it's called whatever it was. That's why it was called whatever it was. He was with friends and they were having, just as Geoff said, sort of going to have a little birthday cake and have a little fun. He had, obviously, everyone knows, a tremendous passion for flying as well as racing. Roush Racing has, in my opinion, which may or may not be worth that much, Roush Racing has the best drivers in Winston Cup racing, and some of the best crew chiefs, and people surrounding it. Right now, what we need to be doing is praying for Jack and taking care of our business."
HOW DIFFICULT WILL IT BE FOR YOU AND THE OTHER ROUSH RACING DRIVERS TO CONCENTRATE ON THE RACE? "I guess I would say prior to the race it's sort of hard to get in the mood. But all of us when we climb in the race cars, I can speak for every one of these guys, they didn't get here for being weak or scatter-focused kind of people. When we climb in those race cars, we will be taking care of business. And that's our commitment and we are as determined to do that, more determined to do that than ever before make sure that we show and prove, not only to Jack, but to everyone else that we can do that."
For more details, see the Motorsport.com report on the Roush accident.