Sheffield racing driver Justin Wilson killed in '˜freak accident'

Sheffield-born IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died in a '˜freak accident' after being hit by a piece of flying debris while racing in America, an inquest heard.

Wednesday, 9th March 2016, 10:57 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th March 2016, 11:01 am
File photo dated 17-12-2002 of Justin Wilson as an inquest into the death of the British IndyCar driver is due to take place at Northampton General Hospital. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 9, 2016. Mr Wilson died last August aged 37 when he was struck on the helmet by flying debris from a crash in the closing stages of a race at the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania and succumbed to his injuries a little over 24 hours later. See PA story INQUEST Wilson. Photo credit should read: Tim Ockenden/PA Wire

Justin Wilson, who was 37 and had been brought up in Woodall, Rotherham, was fatally injured 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 on Wednesday morning, 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.”

Fellow drivers also paid tribute to him, with Nascar racer Danica Patrick describing Mr Wilson as a ‘great man’.