Professional race car driver Dan Wheldon died Sunday after an explosive crash at the Las Vegas IndyCar 300, making him the first IndyCar driver to die after a crash on the track since the 2006 death of Paul Dana.
Wheldon, 33, moved to the United States from his England with dreams of winning the Indianapolis 500, according to the Associated Press (AP), which he accomplished for the second time in May.
The deadly crash, which was captured by television cameras, involved at least 15 other vehicles, with several drivers having to be pulled from their cars.
Wheldon was airlifted from the Las Vegas track after 1 p.m. local time and taken to University Medical Center, according to AP. It was announced about two hours later that he had died.
The last IndyCar driver to die after an on-track crash was rookie Paul Dana who was killed in practice on the morning of the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2006, AP reports.
Also captured by television cameras was actress Ashley Judd, the wife of IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti. Judd could be seen crying just before word came of Wheldon's death.
Not long after the crash Judd commented on her Twitter account: "Thanks everyone for prayers. No update on Dan yet except unconscious but vitals are good. Everyone here very scared. Pray for medical team."
About two hours later, however, Judd followed up with simply one word: "Devastated."
According to AP, the rest of the race was canceled, and drivers returned to the track to make a five-lap tribute to Wheldon. When drivers returned to the track, Wheldon’s No. 77 was the only one on the towering scoreboard.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard made the announcement of Wheldon’s death. "IndyCar is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries," Bernard said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today. IndyCar, its drivers and owners, have decided to end the race."
Fans also expressed remorse on Twitter, prompting the phrase "RIP Dan Wheldon" to appear on Twitter's Trend list.
Former Formula One driver Mark Blundell tweeted, "RIP Dan Wheldon, my thoughts go to his family, loss of a great young talent and nice guy. Racing can be so cruel at times.RIP Indy500 winner."
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino wrote, "#RIP Dan Wheldon...never wanna see anything like this! Sad day. God Bless bro."
Dan Wheldon Dies in Massive Crash at Indy 300 in Las Vegas (WARNING: STRONG CONTENT):
Wheldon had been writing a series of blog posts for USA Today and had made comments on Saturday, the day before the Indy 300 competition.
The final paragraphs of his blog post was about the next day's race:
"This is going to be an amazing show. The two championship contenders, Dario Franchitti and Will Power, are starting right next to each other in the middle of the grid. Honestly, if I can be fast enough early in the race to be able to get up there and latch onto those two, it will be pure entertainment. It's going to be a pack race, and you never know how that's going to turn out.
We all know what this team can do, and I know what I can do. At the end of the day, I have every confidence I them. We should be good in the race. They've worked hard at this, and they'll figure it out.
As long as I can find some speed and keep up with the pack, I'll do everything I can to put on a show."
Wheldon is survived by his wife, Susie, and two sons, Sebastian, two, and six-month-old Oliver.