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Race track lightning victim is identified

Published August 07. 2012 05:01PM

The Monroe County coroner's office has identified the victim of a fatal lightning strike that occurred Sunday at the Pocono International Raceway at Long Pond.

Coroner Bob Allen said Brian F. Zimmerman, 41, of Moosic, Lackawanna County, was killed by one of two lightning strikes that occurred at the track near the conclusion of the NASCAR Pennsylvania 400 race.

Zimmerman was pronounced dead in the emergency room at the Pocono Medical Center, East Stroudsburg, at 6:11 p.m. Allen said Zimmerman was standing next to his car when he was struck at about 4:56 p.m.

The car was parked near Gate 3 of the track. After being struck and falling to the ground Zimmerman went into cardiac arrest, Allen said.

Track officials said the crowd of about 85,000 was advised over the public address system several times to take cover because of an approaching storm. The National Weather Service first issued a severe thunderstorm watch at 3:50 p.m., then upgraded it to a storm warning at 4:12 p.m.

The Associated Press reported that many spectators said they did not hear the warnings made on the PA system. Some claimed the noise level during a race is very high and it is hard to hear anything over the public address system as the race goes on.

The second strike occurred in a parking lot just behind the grandstands near the third turn. Nine persons were injured by the strikes. All are reportedly recovering. Some were hospitalized while others were treated and released at the track.

NASCAR officials told the AP it is investigating how track officials handled the emergency, but cautioned against a rush to judgment in the matter.

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