Posted on: Sep 03, 2012 at 12:00
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Exciting update this morning. Just thought I would explain what happened to Jeff, for those of you who were not at Berlin Raceway Saturday night. In the heat race, his oil cooler bracket broke and the cooler was dragging on the track for 2-3 laps. Going into turn 3, it must have rubbed through, and the hit oil dumped onto his right side header, exploding into a huge ball if flames. The cockpit was also doused with oil. His right rear tire too, hitched caused him to spin around backwards and into the turn 3 wall at the fastest point on the racetrack. Jeff said the heat was already painful before he ever hit the wall, which was probably only 2 or 3 seconds from when the fire started. I believe he was conscious the whole time, but they couldn't keep the fire contained. The right side of the the car was engulfed in flames. On impact, the fuel cell was sliced open, and about 20 gallons if alcohol was now running down and feeding the oil fire. Some of his fellow racers (who we consider our family through thick and thin) tried to get him out of the car, but track fire crew members pulled them away. I'm sure they were worried about the safety of those drivers, but they don't realize that the drivers are much better equipped (with their fire suits, etc. and knowledge of the situation) to be a help to Jeff. The track workers were worried about broken bones, but a racer's biggest fear is fire, and broken bones can heal. Anyway, Jeff was trying to wave the flames away from his face with his right hand and get the steering wheel off with his left. It takes 2 hands to remove the locked on wheel. Then, not realizing that his glove was melting to his hand, he tried to unlatch his 5-point belts, but he couldn't. When they finally got him out of the car, his suit was also on fire. They cut everything off as he laid on the track, but they couldn't cut the glove, which by then had melted to his hand. He pulled it off himself. He has 3rd degree burns from his arm put to his fingertips and 2nd degree burns on his stomach, back, thigh, calf and bottom end. These wounds have to be undressed and debrided every morning, meaning all blisters have to be opened and removed, and all dead skin has to be removed. Sunday they had to cut his arm from just above the elbow to his wrist on the inside to allow for swelling, so that the blood could flow and allow it to heal. Grafting may start as early as tomorrow. He has a broken rib and excruciating pain in his left hip. No breaks found so far, but starting physical therapy this morning, and more pictures to see if there was too much swelling to detect a break originally. Monday morning started for us around 4 a.m. With adverse reactions to a 3a.m. breathing treatment. Elevated heart rate and blood sugars made for a really bad day. For a 5 hour stretch, there was not a 5 minute break from one or more people poking, prodding, running tests and cleaning wounds. No wonder he felt like dog poo all day. They adjusted meds all day, and by supper time he was a new man! Praise God! He ate a good supper and slept like a rock. Happy dance! Soooo much better this morning. The new day of assessments started around 6, and so far , great improvement over yesterday. We both want to thank everyone for their prayers, calls, texts, gifts and visits. Please call my phone to arrange for visits, as we are trying to get him rested up. We have, without a doubt, the greatest family and friends on the planet! We are very humbled (my spell check just changed that to jumbled!) by all of the support from near and far. Thank you so much to everyone who tried and did help both of us get to this point. Great staff at Spectrum Burn Center. We are so blessed! Love you all!

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