TORONTO, CANADA. -- Twenty-five year old rookie Trans-Am Series Driver Gary Longo, of Chicago, Ill., continues to recover from injuries sustained at Mosport International Raceway while competing in the 125 mile Trans-Am event held on May 19, ...
TORONTO, CANADA. -- Twenty-five year old rookie Trans-Am Series Driver Gary Longo, of Chicago, Ill., continues to recover from injuries sustained at Mosport International Raceway while competing in the 125 mile Trans-Am event held on May 19, 2001.
Gary is still listed in fair condition at Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre Trauma unit where he is undergoing treatment for a broken C2 vertebra, which is located below the base of his skull in his upper neck. Dr. Rajiv Midha successfully operated on Longo this past Thursday (May 24th) in order to ad an additional metal plate at the back of the spine and also extend the metal plate at the front, which was installed the day after the accident. The operation, which lasted six hours, was necessary to further strengthen the vertebra and correctly align the spinal column.
"Gary's spine is anatomically realigned and internally fixed anteriorly and posteriorly" said Dr. Midha. Gary remains in a halo brace, but is neurologically stable. He is breathing on his own, but still intubated to assist with breathing. Gary is being treated with antibiotics in order to minimize the risk of pneumonia and is also experiencing fluid accumulation in the lungs and back.
Gary's prognosis continues to improve as he regains movement in his extremities. The accident left Gary initially paralyzed, but thanks to the excellent emergency care trackside and at the Sunnybrook Trauma unit, severe damage to the spinal cord was avoided. X-rays and an MRI taken shortly after the accident indicated that the spinal column was disrupted and the encased spinal cord was bruised, but that no permanent damage was apparent. Shortly after arriving at Sunnybrook, Gary began regaining feeling in his extremities and was able to demonstrate limited movement. Longo suffered severe bruising to his upper body but sustained no other injuries in the crash.
According to Dr. Midha, Gary may be able to be transferred to a Chicago hospital later this week or early next week depending on the speed of his recuperation. Wickes Lumber, the primary sponsor for the Panoz Esperantes driven by Gary Longo and Kerry Alexander, has arranged to have their corporate jet transport Gary back to Chicago when he is released from Sunnybrook.
On lap 38 of the 50 lap event, Longo's car collided with the # 29 Chevrolet Corvette driven by Mike Gagliardo. Gagliardo was transported to Lakeridge Health Center in Bowmanville, Ontario, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Witnesses to the accident reported that two cars tangled forcing one car off the track creating a dust cloud that completely obscured the track. As Longo followed through turn 1, completely blinded by the dust cloud he was unable to see the #29 Chevrolet Corvette which had spun to a stop in the center of the track; the impact was unavoidable.