Lightning strike victim identified
The Monroe County coroner's office Monday morning identified the 41-year-old Moosic man killed Sunday by one of two lightning strikes at Pocono Raceway.
Brian F. Zimmerman was pronounced dead at Pocono Medical Center at 6:11 p.m., about an hour after lightning struck his car, said Monroe County Coroner Bob Allen.
Allen said an autopsy will be conducted Tuesday to determine an exact cause of death, though authorities are already aware of the basic circumstances. Zimmerman was standing beside his car near Gate 3 at the racetrack when lightning struck the vehicle at 4:56 p.m., Allen said.
It was not clear whether Zimmerman was leaning on the vehicle or just standing beside it, but the strike knocked him to the ground and put him into cardiac arrest, Allen said.
An off-duty paramedic who happened to walk by Zimmerman just after he fell began to perform CPR on him, and medical personnel took over three minutes later when an ambulance arrived, Allen said.
Zimmerman was then treated for about 10 minutes at the race track's infield hospital before being transported to Pocono Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 6:11 p.m.
Track officials said the crowd of 85,000 was advised several times to take cover Sunday afternoon over public address systems and social media when storms threatened the area near the end of the race, according to The Associated Press. They were checking their logs for details of those announcements.
But some posted on the raceway's Facebook page that they never heard the weather warnings, the AP reported. One fan noted in a Twitter message to the AP that the races are so loud you can't hear people near you, let alone the public address system.
The deadly strike was one of two that touched down at the Raceway on Sunday, as a violent thunderstorm rolled through the area.
The other strike occurred in a parking lot just behind the grandstands near the third turn. A total of nine other individuals were injured by the strikes.
One of the other injured fans had been listed Sunday night in critical condition but was upgraded to stable, track president Brandon Igdalsky told the AP. The remaining eight people had been treated and released from the hospital.
"The individuals that were affected have spoken to the hospital folks, and they're in good spirits," he told the AP. "It's just a freak incident. They said they had a great day and, boom, this happened to us."
"Mother Nature's sneaky," Igdalsky told the AP. "You don't know what she's going to do."
NASCAR spokesman Dave Higdon told the AP Monday that officials are reviewing how the track carried out its emergency procedures. He cautioned against rushing to judgment.
"Anytime something like this happens, we make sure we look at it again and see if there's anything we should have done different," Higdon told the AP. "It's never a good day for us when someone passes and people are hurt."
A man who answered the phone at the Zimmerman's home Monday night said the family did not have any statement at this time.
Zimmerman's next door neighbor Linda Ott said she was saddened to hear how Zimmerman died, leaving behind a wife and three young children.
"They're always with their kids playing in the backyard. Very friendly, easy to get along with," Ott said. "We really are sad.
"We loved having him here and we're going to miss him," she added.
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