Sheffield IndyCar Driver Death 'Freak Accident'

The father of a British IndyCar driver who was fatally injured during a race in the US has described it as a "freak accident''.

Justin Wilson, 37, was struck by a piece of flying debris while taking part in the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania last August.

Race leader Sage Karam crashed his car into a barrier, scattering debris on to the track in the closing stages of the race.

Drivers then swerved to avoid the debris but Sheffield-born Wilson was hit on the helmet by a piece of Karam's car.

He was transferred to a nearby hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania, but died of his injuries a little over 24 hours after the accident.

At a brief inquest in the boardroom of Northampton General Hospital, coroner Anne Pember read a statement from Wilson's father, Keith, who described the event as a "freak accident''.

It said: "The car leading the race crashed and was driving at over 200mph. The driver was unhurt but debris from his car flew high into the air and a large, heavy piece hit Justin on the head as he approached the scene of the accident.

"Justin was unconscious, he was extracted from the car and rushed to hospital. He underwent surgery and was kept on a life support machine until the following day. The decision was then taken to switch off the machine and Justin was pronounced deceased.

"Justin was a kind, caring and loving son who is sadly missed by all of his family and friends.''

Mrs Pember then concluded that Wilson's death was accidental.

Wilson formerly raced in Formula 1 for the Minardi and Jaguar teams and was competing for Andretti Autosport at the time of his death.

He is survived by his wife Julia and two young daughters.

At the time of his death, Mark Miles, chief executive of Hulman & Co, the parent company of IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said: ``Justin's elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility - which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock.''

Meanwhile, a string of fellow drivers also paid tribute to Wilson.

IndyCar and former Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya tweeted: "Tough day in motorsport today as we lose another great person and driver. RIP Justin. You will be missed. Thoughts and prayers for his family.''

IndyCar and Nascar racer Alex Tagliani posted: "I will miss the good laughs of my 2007 teammate Justin Wilson & the great conversations in the paddock. I am very sad & hurt for his family.''

Nascar driver Danica Patrick tweeted: "Wow, what a sad day. Justin Wilson was a good man. A great man. I had the pleasure of knowing him and pray for his family.''

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