After a six year absence from the City of Houston, Grand Prix racing made its return to the Bayou City last weekend. What was meant to be a family friendly event turned into shock and concern when a crash caused debris and part of the safety fence to fly into the viewing area surrounding the racetrack. Thirteen audience members were injured from the flying debris and two of those thirteen had to be taken to the hospital for further observation and treatment.
The crash happened during the second race on Sunday afternoon and involved Dario Franchitti, a four-time IndyCar champion. While making a turn on the track, Franchitti’s car made contact with another competitor’s vehicle, flew into the air, and landed against the safety fence that surrounded the track. This caused debris from the crash and part of the safety fence to fly into the stands where spectators were seated.
In addition to the 13 spectators that were injured, Franchitti also suffered serious injuries including two fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle, and a concussion.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time spectators have been injured at a racing event. In February, more than 30 NASCAR fans were injured at the Daytona 500 when a crash caused debris to fly into the stands. Some of the injured fans from that race have considered a lawsuit and believe that some courts would look past liability waivers written on the back of sporting event tickets. Those fans have argued that although they assumed a certain amount of risk by attending that type of event, they did not, and other NASCAR fans do not, assume that a car, or parts of it, will go flying into the stands.
In both the Houston and Daytona crashes, a safety fence did surround the track but failed to stop the flying debris from reaching the audience. An attorney for the NASCAR fans previously indicated that the failure of the fence to do what it was there for, protect the audience, would help the NASCAR fans prove a claim for negligence.