IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson has been airlifted to Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital in Pennsylvania after being involved in a serious accident during the closing stages of Sunday’s Pocono 500-mile oval race.
Officials have given a further update, confirming that the 37-year-old is “in a coma and in critical condition” while he undergoes further evaluation.
The Englishman, driving for Andretti Autosports, appeared to make contact with the broken nose cone that had been torn loose among other debris from Sage Karam’s Chip Ganassi Chevrolet, which had just crashed out of the lead at Turn 3.
Video footage appears to show the debris striking an unsighted Wilson in the head, apparently knocking him unconscious and sending him spearing head-on into the inside wall of the three-corner 2.5-mile oval.
Medical teams were immediately on the scene to extricate him from his car, and he was subsequently stretchered to a waiting ambulance and the infield medical centre before being airlifted by medical helicopter.
Wilson’s wife Julia and his younger brother Stefan – who formerly competed in the Indy Lights series – are being flown to Pennsylvania; NASCAR team owner/driver Tony Stewart kindly donated his private jet to rush the family to Wilson’s bedside.
Wilson is an 11-year veteran of the US open-wheel racing scene following a short-lived stint in Formula 1 in 2003 with the Minardi and Jaguar teams. He made his debut in the now-defunct ChampCar World Series in 2004, claiming four wins in a 54-race career before moving onto the IndyCar Series, where he has claimed three further wins in 104 starts to-date.
In 2011, Wilson was sidelined from the latter stages of the 2011 IndyCar Series when he suffered a compression fracture in his spine during practice for the Mid-Ohio 200; he made a full recovery and returned to the grid in 2012.
Sunday’s crash-marred Pocono 500 race was eventually won under caution by Wilson’s teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Wilson’s accident came one day after a heavy crash at the same corner by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball, who lost control and slammed into the outer wall at high speed. The American’s car briefly became airborne before hitting the catch-fencing, but he was fortunately able to emerge with little more than a cut chin.
We will publish more updates of Wilson’s condition as they come to hand.
Image via Motorsport.com