Preliminary autopsy report on Dale Earnhardt

By Motorsport.com staff DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- According to a preliminary autopsy report released Monday evening, Dale Earnhardt suffered blunt force trauma to the head and neck. The 49 year old driver died from a severe fracture to the base...

By Motorsport.com staff

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- According to a preliminary autopsy report released Monday evening, Dale Earnhardt suffered blunt force trauma to the head and neck. The 49 year old driver died from a severe fracture to the base of his skull that caused bruising and bleeding to the soft tissue in his brain.

He also broke eight ribs, his left ankle and his breastbone. There were several scrapes on his body. He had blood in his ears and chest and partially collapsed lungs.

The report will not be finalized for several weeks, following completion of blood tests.

The seven-time Winston Cup champion was pronounced dead at Halifax Medical Center at 5:16 p.m. EST after his car hit the outside wall at an estimated 180 mph in the final turn of the Daytona 500. At a press conference Monday morning, Volusia County spokesman Dave Byron said that the autopsy showed Earnhardt was killed as soon as he collided with the racetrack wall.

The report shows that the fatal skull fracture circled the base of Earnhardt's skull, extending from the bottom of the skull to the sides. There was a significant amount of internal bleeding at the base of his brain. He had blood in his ears and mild brain swelling from the skull fracture.

In the past year, four NASCAR drivers have died from basal skull fractures: Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper. They are caused by violent head movement in which large blood vessels at the base of the skull are torn, creating immediate and severe blood loss.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Adam Petty