LAS VEGAS (AP) – Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon died Sunday in a fiery 15-car wreck at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his car flew over another on Lap 13 and smashed into the wall just outside turn 2.
Wheldon was 33. Drivers were told of Wheldon’s death in a meeting about two hours after the fiery, smoky crash that many drivers said was the worst they had ever seen.
He won the Indianapolis 500 twice, including this year.
“IndyCar is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries,” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today. IndyCar, its drivers and owners, have decided to end the race. In honor of Dan Wheldon, the drivers have decided to do a five-lap salute to in his honor.”
Three other drivers, including championship contender Will Power, were hurt in the pileup.
The wreck left Townsend Bell upside down and smoldering cars and debris littered the track nearly halfway up the straightaway of the 1.5-mile oval.
The track was red-flagged following the accidents while crews worked on fences and removed smashed cars.
Wheldon started in the back of the pack but quickly worked his way through the 34-car field before the wreck.
“It was like a movie scene which they try to make as gnarly as possible,” said Danica Patrick, making her final IndyCar start. “It was debris everywhere across the whole track, you could smell the smoke, you could see the billowing smoke on the back straight from the car. There was a chunk of fire that we were driving around. You could see cars scattered.
Drivers had been concerned about the high speeds at the track, where they were hitting nearly 225 mph during practice.
Their concerns became reality when contact on Turn 2 sent cars flying through the air, crashing into each other and into the outside wall and catch fence.
“I’ll tell you, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Ryan Briscoe said. “The debris we all had to drive through the lap later, it looked like a war scene from Terminator or something. I mean, there were just pieces of metal and car on fire in the middle of the track with no car attached to it and just debris everywhere. So it was scary, and your first thoughts are hoping that no one is hurt because there’s just stuff everywhere. Crazy.”
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — Libya’s new government said it has control of new areas in Bani Walid as the battle rages on for one of the last cities loyal to the ousted ruler.
The city center and the northern part of the city are now under government control, said Ali Daeki, a member of the executive crisis committee.
Government forces have surrounded the city from all sides, and arrested more than 20 loyalists of former ruler, he said Saturday.
Troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi are now in Dahra, a residential area in the southern part of the city, according to Daeki.
Israel began to transfer hundreds of Palestinian prisoners to two jails on Sunday before their release in the coming days as part of the deal struck with Hamas in exchange for the freeing of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The names of 450 male prisoners and 27 female prisoners scheduled for release were published by the Israeli prison service on Saturday night. Among them are militants serving multiple life sentences for attacks in which Israeli civilians were killed and maimed. The oldest prisoner, Mohamed Hemad, was arrested 35 years ago.
Israelis who want to challenge the release of individuals have until the end of Monday to lodge objections at the high court of justice. However, the court is not expected to intervene following the approval of the deal by a large majority in the cabinet and its widespread public support.
Shalit was captured in June 2006 by Palestinian militants who tunnelled into Israel from the Gaza Strip. He has been held in the Hamas-ruled territory ever since. His family’s tireless campaign to get him released has turned him into a national cause celebre.
Although there was jubilation in Israel at the news of the deal, that has been tempered by some people warning that the price of Shalit’s release is too high.
The first phase of the prisoner swap involves 450 men and 27 women. Another 550 will be released in about two months, according to officials familiar with the Egyptian-mediated deal. Some prisoners originally from the West Bank will be sent to the Gaza Strip and other prisoners will be exiled abroad.