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Pocono nightmare

Published August 06. 2012 05:03PM

One person was killed and nine others injured when a violent thunderstorm struck the Pocono International Raceway on Sunday near the end of NASCAR's Pennsylvania 400 race.

The person killed was pronounced dead at the Pocono Medical Center, East Stroudsburg, where he was taken for treatment. He was pronounced dead in the emergency room shortly after arrival. His name was not released immediately because of notification of next of kin.

The nine injured were taken to area hospitals. One that was critically injured was taken to the Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township. Two were taken to the Geisinger-Wyoming Medical Center, Plains Township, near Wilkes-Barre, one was taken to PMC, and five others were treated and released at the raceway.

According to reports from track officials, the strikes occurred at two different locations, one at Gate 3, an entrance that permits fans to enter the track between turns two and three, and another in a parking lot just behind the grandstands, near turn three.

Track fans were warned by the public address announcer and by social networks of the pending storm.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch at 3:50 p.m. At 4:12 p.m. the NWS changed it to a warning.

The warnings cautioned against dangerous winds and large hail, along with severe cloud-to-ground lightning.

The race restarted at about 4:55 p.m. at which time the track announcer made the announcement about the severe weather. The storm struck about 5:15 p.m.

Fans seated in the grandstand were warned that the grandstand may not be the safest place to be. Most of them began leaving and seeking shelter.

The race itself was cut short due to the weather conditions.

The 1 p.m. scheduled start was pushed back several times before the race finally began. The race was called off after just 98 laps of 160 were completed with Jeff Gordon leading at the time and declared the winner.

The announced crowd was 85,000.

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