NASCAR driver Davey Allison died today of injuries suffered when the helicopter he was piloting crashed at Talladega Superspeedway Monday.
Carraway Methodist Medical Center spokesman David Smitherman said Allison, 32, was pronounced dead at 7 a.m. CDT."The cause of death was massive head injuries," Smitherman said. "He never regained consciousness following the crash."
Allison and veteran racer Red Farmer were the only two people aboard Allison's recently purchased helicopter when it crashed Monday afternoon in a section of the track infield not normally used by helicopters.
Smitherman said Farmer, who suffered broken ribs and a broken collarbone, remained in intensive care today but had rested comfortably during the night. "He is stable, alert and responsive," said the spokesman.
Allison is survived by his parents, Bobby and Judy Allison; his wife Liz and two children, ages 3 years and 11 months; and two sisters.
The family asked that Allison's organs be donated for transplant "so others may live," Smitherman said.
Members of the racing fraternity began gathering at the hospital soon after the crash. Retired driver Benny Parsons said doctors Monday night had expressed "a ray of hope" about Allison's condition.
"It's just a very tragic situation," said Parsons.
Brian VanDercook, a spokesman for the Robert Yates racing team for which Allison drove, said the organization was devastated.
"I think what we have to do is reflect on the lessons we learned from Davey on dealing with adversity," said VanDercook. VanDercook said he did not know whether the team would remain in competition this year.
An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board was in Talladega to sort out conflicting accounts of what happened in the 3 p.m. crash in the track infield. A news conference was planned for late today.
Speedway president Mike Helton said Allison went down while attempting to land. The chopper came to rest on its side near a chain-link fence just yards away from a garage and a media center.
"They crashed on landing. It just went out of control," Helton said Monday night. "It didn't really hit anything."
But V.H. Steed, an official with the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta, said the agency was told the helicopter was taking off when it went down.
"The report we had was that he was departing and hit a fence," Steed said.
Smitherman said Allison suffered an acute subdural hematoma, an injury deep in the brain. A helicopter ambulance took Allison and Farmer to the hospital, about 50 miles west of the race track.
Farmer was conscious after the accident.
"Red crawled out, and they were trying to get Davey out, but they had to get emergency units to cut him out," Carolyn Yates said after talking to her husband Robert, who owns the Ford Thunderbirds driven by Allison on the Winston Cup circuit. "The helicopter hit a fence, and it turned upside down."
A cousin, Donnie Johnson, said Allison purchased the helicopter only three weeks ago. He and Farmer had flown from Birmingham to the track to watch racer Neil Bonnett's son David, who was testing a Busch Grand National car on the 2.66-mile tri-oval.