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IndyCar Driver Justin Wilson Dies Of Head Injury

IndyCar Series veteran Justin Wilson died Monday after suffering a traumatic head injury during a race Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

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IndyCar Series veteran Justin Wilson died Monday after suffering a traumatic head injury suffered in Sunday's ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, his family announced.

In what was described as a freak accident, the 37-year-old was struck in the head, while wearing a helmet, by a piece of debris that was on the track after race leader Sage Karam's car crashed.

Wilson is the second IndyCar driver to die from an accident on the track in four years. Indy driver Dan Wheldon was killed in a fiery crash in 2011 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Wilson was surrounded by his family at Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania, when he died on Monday, the Indy Star reported.

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Karam's car crashed while he was leading the 200-lap race. As pieces of debris were bouncing on the track, Wilson, who was wearing a helmet, was struck in the head. He was apparently knocked unconscious and his car veered out of control, eventually smashing into the inside wall. Karam suffered a foot injury.

"This is a monumentally sad day for INDYCAR and the motorsports community as a whole," IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said in a statement. "Justin's elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility — which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock. As we know, the racing industry is one big family, and our efforts moving forward will be focused on rallying around Justin's family to ensure they get the support they need during this unbelievably difficult time."

Wilson was born in Sheffield, England, and had lived in Longmont, Colorado. Since 2004, he had been competing in the American open-wheel race, and in six races this season for Andretti Autosport. Wilson earned seven career Indy car victories.

justinwilson.co.uk

He is survived by his wife, Julia, and two young daughters, Jane and Jessica.

"Justin was a loving father and devoted husband, as well as a highly competitive racing driver who was respected by his peers," his family said in a statement.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that people to donate to a trust that has been set set up for Wilson's daughters.

Friends and fans took to social media to express their grief at the news of Wilson's death:

This is crushing news. #RIP Justin, our friend: http://t.co/7AU21TzPXG

His younger brother, Stefan Wilson, who is also an Indy car driver, said "can't even begin to describe the loss I feel right now."

Can't even begin to describe the loss I feel right now. He was my Brother, my best friend, my role model and mentor. He was a champion!

He never stopped giving & caring for others. Even at this time. He had pre-chosen to donate his organs to help others in need. #myherojw

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I often told him, I just want to grow up to be half the man he is, as that will make me a pretty good man.

Karam wrote, "I can't find the proper words to describe the pain and sympathy I feel for Justin and his family."

I can't find the proper words to describe the pain and sympathy I feel for Justin and his family. #RIPJustin

IndyCar driver Ed Carpenter said Justin was "one of the few who was a friend to all the competitors."

"one of the few who was a friend to all competitors," says Ed Carpenter.

"He exemplified what we all love (about IndyCar racing)."

Incredibly saddened for Justin's wife & daughters & his baby brother @stef_wilson. So glad they got to race together.

Why do we do this? Because we love it, don't want to be anywhere else but a race car. We will keep your legacy my friend. Racers race.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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