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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."


AAAAAAAAARGH!

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!
 

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I've always said they should run full face helmets, if for no other reason than to protect the drivers from flying debrie in an accident like the 18 car incident Sunday. What a shame to lose such a great to such a thing.
 

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I always hated that he wore an open face helmet! I worked in an Emergency Room, night shift, for 2 years and open-face helmets (not to mention the little Nazi beanie caps) just suck in a crash, any way that you look at it. Plus, like SprintSTpilot said, flying debris can really mess you up.

Makes me sick at my stomach to think that he died because his freaking seatbelt broke. :(
 

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According to Richard Childress, it was an almost new belt too!!
We haven't heard the last of this by a long shot!!!:(

Jim
 

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AZ Scott said:
...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!
Well, God bless him, but the guy was 50 years old. He'd probably given a thought or two about the protective gear he used. Bottom line....it was his choice. Unfortunate? Yes, but still his choice to make.
 

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i saw that s*it on the news tonight. thats the worst thing (in my opinion) to have happen to a professional driver. the belt's should all be inspected before each race by a nascar inspector.
 

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wicked f3 said:
i saw that s*it on the news tonight. thats the worst thing (in my opinion) to have happen to a professional driver. the belt's should all be inspected before each race by a nascar inspector.
That is a good thought but just about impossible to do.

Too much goes on with the cars for that to work. I imagine the belts do get checked once. I haven't been to a NASCAR race in a few years but if it is anything like motorcycles then it wouldn't work. Bikes go through tech early in the weekend and don't get looked at really hard again until the end of the race(typically). There just isn't enough staff to do it. Bikes will get completely torn down with engines swapped and exhausts changed, etc., etc. And all this done with the tech sticker on the upper fairing which is sitting on the ground.

My point is that the team has to take responsibility for their drivers' safety. NASCAR has done about all it can from this standpoint. The guys building the cars are more qualified than the NASCAR inspectors.
 

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I think that the seatbelt is the main issue. The speed they are traveling, I am wondering if he would have survived with a full face helmet. Anyhow, I agree they should be forced to use full face helmets, regardless. RCJohn is right about the seatbelts. A lot of that has to be on the team, because the logistics of checking and double, triple checking everything with so much happening to the cars, is not really possible.

I will add he also declined to wear the neck brace that some drives wear, and all Formula 1 drivers wear. This... would have saved his life, I am guessing.
 
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