On a final lap at the Grand Prix of Houston Sunday, just seconds away from naming a winner, a shocking crash happened so quickly that fans had no time to run for cover.
Fifteen people were injured at Reliant Park. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti was injured, sustaining a concussion, fracturing two vertebrae and breaking his right ankle.
The wreck occurred in the last lap of the race when Franchitti's car was bumped by Japanese driver Takuma Sato, propelling the car airborne into the protective fencing. The car spun multiple times against the fence, sending pieces of debris flying toward the grandstands and shearing off part of its side.
Gary Johnson was standing along the side of the race track and caught the crash on camera.
“The car was up in the air and in the fence before you could really even respond,” said Johnson.
“It just shattered like glass,” said spectator Paul Lock. “It went everywhere. It was almost like something exploded.”
Debris from both cars shot into the grandstands hitting many fans. Johnson suffered minor scrapes, but said in front of him, a 16-year-old boy there with his father passed out.
“He was hit in his lower back and he had a big bruise and scratches on his shoulders,” said Johnson.
Part of the fence ripped apart and also went flying.
“There was a lady actually they had to pick the fence off of in the bleachers,” Johnson said.
In a statement, race officials said a total of 15 people were injured.
“Following an accident that occurred on-track at the Grand Prix of Houston this afternoon our greatest concern is for our fans and participants.
An INDYCAR official and INDYCAR driver, Dario Franchitti, along with two fans were transferred to an area hospital for evaluation. Eleven fans were additionally evaluated on site.
Officials are investigating the incident and currently do not have further information at this time. Fan and driver safety are always a primary concern and we will provide further details as they are available.”
Eleven fans were treated on site at Reliant. Two more fans were taken to the hospital, along with an injured race official.
Franchitti underwent surgery on his ankle Sunday night and was listed in fair condition.
The others taken to the hospital are listed in good condition.
The cause of the crash has not been determined.