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Death of fan in Pocono hits close to home with this writer

By admin | August 9, 2012

By Richard Allen


I have been away from home on a week long hiatus at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and have had only limited access to the internet and every other means of communication during that time. That is why I am just now writing a reaction to an event that happened several days ago. But with that said, I felt compelled to at least make some comment regarding the death of Brian Zimmerman at the Pocono Raceway on Sunday.

I had been able to watch the Sprint Cup race in question but had immediately turned away once the event was officially called due to stormy weather. It was not until several hours later that I heard the tragic news of several fans being struck by lightning and one of them being fatally injured. As were many others, I was deeply saddened to hear of what had transpired.

But in the days following the tragedy, the story of Brian Zimmerman hit closer to home for me when it was reported that he was a 41 year old husband and father of three children.

I myself am a 44 year old husband and father of three children. Upon hearing the report, my thoughts immediately went out to the family of this race fan. The news of the death had almost certainly come as a devastating blow to his family, especially considering the circumstances in which the incident occurred.

Whenever a person goes off to a race or any other type of event such as this it is supposed to be a day of fun and excitement that provides memories which can be happily recounted for months and years into the future. No fan is supposed to die at a car race, a football game or a concert.

No doubt, Mr. Zimmerman went off to the Pocono Raceway hoping for and expecting a great day. And no doubt, his wife and children anxiously awaited his return and the story of how his day unfolded. Unfortunately, that is not what happened.

I have been to one NASCAR event this year at the Bristol Motor Speedway as well as at least 25-30 dirt track races all over the South so far in 2012. Many times, my two sons have attended with me and sometimes they have not. I cannot imagine the shock and devastation that my own wife and kids would feel following one of my racing trips if such news were to be delivered to them as was delivered to the Zimmerman family this past Sunday.

Needless to say, I hope they never experience those feelings.

When I was younger and unattached, I did not want to die but I did not really fear my own death. Since being married 14 years ago and becoming a father almost ten years ago, I do now have a fear of dying. That fear is not so much for my own sake but for the sake of those who depend on me.

I am a race fan and I will not stop going to races. However, I will start to take more precautions than I might have normally. That applies to all of life, and not just while at the track.

Just this afternoon, I was mowing my lawn as dark clouds closed in. Just one week earlier under similar circumstances I would have continued mowing right up until the time that the rain finally made the grass too wet to continue. This time, however, when the first sign of lightning appeared and the thunder cracked, I put my bravado aside and decided the yard could wait and I parked the mower.

The thought of another who had his life cut tragically short under similar circumstances was still fresh in my memory.

I feel terribly sorry for Brian Zimmerman and for his family that was left behind to mourn him. There is no positive spin to take from this horrible tragedy. But there is the reminder that we must all be cautious, not only for our own sakes but for the sakes of those who depend on us.

The Pocono Raceway has established a fund to aid those affected by this tragedy. Please check their website for details.

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