Okay, now I'm mad. Investigation of the wreckage determined that the webbing on his left lap belt came apart, probably during the impact. This should never happen, no matter how hard the hit!
But what really makes me mad is that it appears that he may have survived it he had been wearing a full-face helmet!
Here are some quotes from the news article
Helton said the broken left seat belt was discovered during an investigation of Earnhardt's wrecked Chevrolet on Sunday night. The webbing that goes into the metal buckle broke, according to NASCAR Winston Cup director Gary Nelson. The buckle remained latched, but the belt itself was separated from the metal latches.
Dr. Steve Bohannon, the Daytona International Speedway medical director, explained how the broken seat belt launched Earnhardt's body forward, making it possible for his head to hit other parts inside the race car.
"It appears this allowed his body to move forward and it appears that probably his chin struck the steering column in such a way that the forces were transmitted up the mandible (lower jaw) on each side to fracture the base of his skull," Bohannon said. "Of course, the chest hitting would account for the rib fractures on his left side.
"He would have had a much better chance to survive if the belt had not broken."
In addition to Earnhardt's fractured skull that killed him, the NASCAR legend also suffered broken ribs, broken sternum and a fractured left ankle.
"It appears the major impact for Mr. Earnhardt was forward and to the right," Bohannon said. "The belt gave way, which allowed his body to move forward and to the right at which time he more than likely contacted the steering wheel with his chest and his face."
All this talk about HANS devices and soft walls, etc., and when it comes down to it, I really believe that a proper G** D*** helmet would have saved his life!
Obviously, with the seat belt breaking, he would have been messed up, and probably spent some time in the hospital, but I really don't think he would have died.
I've said for years that it's foolish for NASCAR not to mandate full-face helmets, and there's only one guy left who wears open-face: That's right, Dale Earnhardt JR.
I hope they come to their senses IMMEDIATELY!