Roush Critical But Stable
April 20, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Roush's twin-engine Air Cam plane went down near Troy Friday night sometime between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, then airlifted to UAB Trauma Center in Birmingham, where he arrived at approximately 10:15 p.m.
"He was celebrating in a style we would expect from Jack... with friends, flying in an aircraft," said Geoff Smith, President of Roush Racing. "Jack received serious injuries and is in critical but stable condition. He has suffered a closed-head injury, the most serious of the injuries, and we're very encouraged by the fact he is able to follow commands and respond to commands he is given.
"He has two leg fractures that are expected to be set this afternoon. We are told to be guarded about the head injury for the next 48 hours because head injuries can turn quickly.
Three of Roush’s Winston Cup drivers – Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch – were present at the hospital late Friday and early Saturday morning, as the owner underwent tests and evaluation. The team is in Alabama to compete in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 race at Talladega Superspeedway. Friday was Roush's 60th birthday.
"He had great color, but looked pretty beat up," said Martin. "That's really all I can say... Last night it was going to be 24 hours before anything could be determined... he's hanging in there under the circumstances."
UAB Trauma Center is a Level 1 Trauma Center, and hospital director of media relations Laura Mansfield said that's why Roush was brought to UAB.
"Mr. Roush is undergoing a whole battery of tests, which is standard procedure for anyone who has been critically injured as he has," Mansfield said. "Any time of the day or night, we have specialists in-house here to treat critical injuries."
Roush, who owns and restores planes, was flying his single-seat aircraft and may have hit some power lines.
Roush landed in a pond and may have been under water for several minutes before a man who observed the accident saved him.
"We'd like very much acknowledge Larry Hicks," said Smith. "Larry is the gentleman that pulled Jack out of the water and resuscitated him. Without him and the emergency personnel that responded to the call, we wouldn't feel as positive as we do now about the whole thing."
Smith said Saturday morning during the press conference at Talladega Superspeedway that he didn’t have any other specific details about the crash itself or what entity would be investigating the accident.
“We don’t know what airport he left from or where he was going,” Smith said. “We believe they were rotating aircraft as part of his birthday enjoyment. We don’t have any of the details of the airplane crash itself or the circumstances surrounding it, only that he was with friends that live in the Atlanta area, and there may have been other people they were visiting in Troy area.”
At 11:30 a.m. (ET) on Saturday, NASCAR CEO Bill France released this statement: "Our thoughts are with Jack Roush, his family and the Roush organization during this difficult time. Jack Roush is an innovator and leader in the NASCAR industry. His tireless efforts have helped the sport achieve the success it enjoys today. All members of the NASCAR family are praying for his recovery."
Members of the Roush Racing team practiced Saturday morning, and will compete in Sunday's event.
"We've all worked with a man that is totally driven, and we're all people that like to take care of our business," said Martin. "That's what he wants us to do and that's what we'll do. Our greatest concern is for his health... in the meantime, we will take care of our business.
“Everybody knows Jack’s got a tremendous passion for flying and for racing. What we need to be doing now is praying for Jack and going about our business. I guess I would say prior to the race, it’s going to be sort of hard to get in the mood. All of us, when we climb into the race cars, know what we have to do. We didn’t get here by being weak or scatter-focused. We’ll take care of business, and we’re more determined than ever before to do that.”
Smith said updates of Roush’s condition would be forthcoming throughout the weekend. Stay tuned to RacingOne.com for further information.