IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon has passed away after sustaining severe injuries from a 15-car wreck, spurring widespread mourning and tributes.
Fellow Indy racecar drivers participated in a five-lap salute to Wheldon after Sunday’s race was canceled.
NASCAR colleague and popular figure Danica Patrick said, “We’re all very said. He was a friend of all of ours.”
“He’ll be missed. I just feel for his family,” added Patrick, who narrowly missed the fatal accident.
“There was debris everywhere, you could smell and see the billowing smoke,” Patrick, who has retired after seven years on the same day, told ABC News.
Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, was killed two hours after his vehicle was sent careening across the track during the 13th lap of the Las Vegas Indy 300 competition.
The British driver was flown to University Medical Center in Las Vegas by helicopter, and after his death, IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard released a statement.
“IndyCar is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today,” said Bernard.
“Right now I’m numb and speechless,” said fellow British driver, Scotsman Dario Franchitti. “One minute you’re joking around in the driver intros and the next he’s gone,” said the driver, who won his third straight series title after the competition’s cancellation.
“He was six-years-old when I first met him. He was this little kid and the next thing you know he was my teammate,” said Franchitti speaking to reporters after the accident.
The 33-year-old is being mourned worldwide as thousand of tributes continue to flood Twitter.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Indy racer Dan Wheldon… RIP,” wrote Twitter user Angie.
JP said, “Every sport feel it when a tragedy like this happens… RIP Dan Wheldon.”
“Life shouldn’t be one of those things. We lost a great driver in motorsports and he will not be forgotten. Rest in peace Dan Wheldon,” wrote Denny.
Wheldon leaves behind his wife Susie and their two young sons.