By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Fla. Feb 27 The last thing NASCAR fan
Whitney Turner saw before she turned and ran was the
undercarriage of Kyle Larson's race car flying toward her
Saturday in the grandstands at the Daytona International
"It was a scene from a horror movie," said Turner, 33, whose
fibula bone on her right leg was shattered by flying debris.
Turner of Tell City, Indiana, was one of more than 30 fans
injured in a multi-car accident on the last lap of the
Nationwide Series race a day before Sunday's prestigious Daytona
Turner is one of three fans seeking damages who this week
signed on with Matt Morgan of the Orlando personal injury law
firm Morgan & Morgan.
Turner's lawyer said, based on NASCAR history, "a lot of
times they resolve these claims without having to go through
litigation. So hopefully we can come to an amicable resolution
on the value of these claims and move on."
The injuries happened when rookie driver Larson's car went
airborne and sailed into the fence in the frightening crash,
although he was able to climb out of the wreckage afterward.
Crews worked through the night to repair the fence so the
Daytona 500 race could go on as planned. The speedway is owned
by International Speedway Corporation
TRIED TO RUN FOR SAFETY
A lifelong NASCAR fan attending the race in Daytona for the
first time, Turner said she had a front row seat and was
standing as close as possible to the safety fence that separates
fans from the track when the accident occurred.
Turner's seat was just three seats away from the fence's
crossover gate, which is being looked at as possibly the spot
where large debris entered the stands.
As the cars came around turn four, Turner said fans started
yelling that there was a crash. Turner said she saw smoke, and
cars turning around in the air, spewing debris.
"You can see them turn sideways and then all of a sudden
they're getting closer. It happened so fast," she said,
describing how she saw the belly of a car hit the fence as she
turned away and tried to make a run for it.
Turner said she took about two steps back toward her seat
when something knocked her down.
"The only thing I can remember is trying to stand back up
and my leg, I could feel it snap," she said.
She recalled looking around and seeing a car engine on fire
where a commercial video camera and a cameraman wearing a media
identification tag stood moments earlier. She heard people
moaning in their seats, and described the sounds around her.
"People yelling for help. 'There's a young boy.' 'Please
come help us.' And I was screaming 'Help me! Medic! Medic!'
..... Then it all went like silent. Everyone was stunned," she
Medical personnel came to her aid and took her to the
hospital. Doctors told her that, in addition to the fractured
fibula, the debris sliced her Achilles tendon. Her leg was too
swollen for a cast right after the accident but she expects to
get one next week.
Turner, who works for a marketing firm, said she has been
watching NASCAR races for as long as she can remember, and
previously attended two races in North Carolina. Despite her
injuries, Turner said she would return to the races.
"I can tell you I won't be in the first row again," she
NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said that, while the racing
group does not discuss pending or potential litigation, "We'll
likely provide an update on our next steps at our next race,
which is this weekend in Phoenix."
A waiver on the back of the race tickets says that fans
assume all risks, a disclaimer Morgan said was typical for
sporting events and active locales such as ski resorts.
"Arguments can go both ways," as to whether the waiver
absolves the company of all liability, Morgan said.
He said he had not yet determined whether courts had ruled
on that issue.
"I don't believe, in my limited research, that NASCAR has
many - if any - pending lawsuits against them right now," Morgan
He said he will focus attention on engineering studies on
the safety fence at the Talladega Superspeedway after flying
debris injured fans after a similar crash in 2009.