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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Dead in Ferocious Toronto Crash

TORONTO -- Pieces of the race car were littered across the track. The car had spun, smashed and scattered seconds earlier. And now emergency crews were trying to pull Jeff Krosnoff from his car.


It was too late. The 31-year-old rookie driver and a course worker at the Toronto Molson-Indy were dead.


Dr. Hugh Scully, the race's medical director, confirmed Krosnoff and Gary Avrin died instantly Sunday.


Krosnoff's wife, Tracy, and parents, Jack and Jeanne, were at Toronto Hospital when he was pronounced dead about 30 minutes after the accident.


He is the second Indy-car driver killed this year. Scott Brayton died in a crash in May during an Indianapolis 500 practice. The last Indy-car driver killed during a race was Swede Savage in the 1973 Indy 500.


Scully said Krosnoff died of "massive head and chest injuries, skeletal wounds and complete cardiac arrest.'' Details of Avrin's injuries were withheld until completion of a coroner's investigation.


Barbara Johnston of Ypsilanti, Michigan, another course worker, was treated and released for a lacerated head at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.


The race, shortened to 92 laps because of the mayhem, was won by Adrian Fernandez of Mexico. The deaths on the track, however, shadowed his first Indy-car victory.


"My prayers go out to the families and people involved in the crash,'' Fernandez said. "I'm happy to win the race, but this is a very sad thing.''


Sunday was witness two more racing tragedies.


In Alencon, France, five people were killed and 22 injured when a race car went out of control and plowed into a crowd of spectators at the Inter-Nations Cup. In Belgium, a British rider and Belgian official were killed in the Francorchamps 24-hour motorcycle race.


Krosnoff, of La Canada, California, began racing in 1983. He spent the past half dozen years racing in Japan. His best finish of 15th place came last month in the Detroit Grand Prix.


"I'm getting more comfortable and the team is getting more comfortable with me,'' Krosnoff said over the weekend. "I think we're really starting to make some progress now.''


Fernandez and Italian Alex Zanardi were battling on lap 92 of the scheduled 95-lap race when Krosnoff made wheel-to-wheel contact with Stefan Johansson on the fastest part of the 2.9 kilometers, 11-turn temporary road circuit.


Krosnoff's Reynard-Toyota soared above the heads of several workers standing behind the concrete barriers lining the course. His car smashed into the catch-fencing above the wall and spun, with pieces scattering across the course and the battered cockpit stopping against the opposite wall.


Avrin, 44, was stationed at the site of the accident, but it was not immediately clear if he was hit by flying debris or the car itself.


"I know he died doing what he loved to do,'' Avrin's mother Ruth told The Toronto Star. "That's a comfort to me right now.''


Many in the crowd of 68,000, away from the crash site, had no idea what had happened.


Johansson, Andre Ribeiro and Emerson Fittipaldi wound up parked in a runoff area at the end of the Lakeshore Boulevard straightaway. All escaped injury.


"I went to brake for Turn 3 and suddenly saw an engine and transmission deposited in my right front suspension,'' Fittipaldi said. "It was from Krosnoff's car, which was upside down in the barrier. ... The scene at Turn 3 was chaotic. It is very sad.''


As emergency personnel worked to extricate Krosnoff from his car, officials waved the red and checkered flags, ending the race at the end of the 93rd lap.


Mexico's Fernandez, 31 wound up the winner in his 48th Indy-car start. His best previous finish was third in the 1995 Michigan 500.


Zanardi was second. Bobby Rahal was third, his top finish this season, followed by Canadian rookie Greg Moore, Paul Tracy, Bryan Herta, Christian Fittipaldi and series leader Jimmy Vasser.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)