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Lightning Strike Kills 1, Injures 9 at Pocono NASCAR Race


"Certainly our thoughts are with them"

(Photo: AP)

(The Blaze/AP) -- A lightning strike in the parking lot at Pocono Raceway after a rain-shortened NASCAR race Sunday killed one person and injured nine others, racetrack officials said.

It wasn't immediately clear if all 10 people were actually struck by lightning in the parking lot behind the grandstand, nor was it known whether one or multiple strikes occurred during the thunderstorm.

Two people were taken to hospitals in critical condition after the strike, racetrack officials said. President Brandon Igdalsky said one of them later died at Pocono Medical Center, but he provided few other details.

"Our thoughts and prayers with those involved in today's lightning strike at the Raceway," track officials said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, one of our fans, who was critically injured, was pronounced (dead on arrival) at the Pocono Medical Center in Stroudsburg...We ask for our fans to please keep all affected, and their families, in your prayers."

The race was called because of storms, with 98 of the 160 scheduled laps completed. The track posted warnings on its Twitter page near the end of the race encouraging fans to "seek shelter as severe lightning and heavy winds are in our area."  Public announcements were also made.

Jeff Gordon, who won the race, said he could hear a huge crack as he walked down the pit road during the storm.

"We were walking down pit road, the umbrellas weren't doing any good and there was a huge, huge crack from lightning," Gordon explained.  "You could tell it was very close. That's the thing that's going to take away from the victory is the fact that somebody was affected by that."

One person remained hospitalized in critical condition at Lehigh Valley Hospital Center, a track spokesman said. The other five people were taken to various hospitals with minor to moderate injuries.

"That's just so unfortunate, because (the fans) are so loyal and avid here, so you hate to hear something like that," Gordon reiterated at a post-race press conference.

"Certainly our thoughts are with them."

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