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4-Year-Old Boy Dies From Injuries at Rockford Speedway

September 23, 1996

LOVES PARK, Ill. (AP) _ A tire broke loose from a race car and flew into a crowded grandstand at Rockford Speedway, striking and fatally injuring a 4-year-old Wisconsin boy and hurting his father and another boy.

Christopher Hodge of Janesville, Wis., died about 7:30 a.m. today after suffering head and chest injuries in the accident Sunday, officials said. He died at Rockford Memorial Hospital.

His father, Aaron Hodge, 23, was in fair condition with a broken leg, while another spectator, Joshua O’Leary, 13, of Milton, Wis., was treated and released.

The tire landed about 10 rows up in the backstretch grandstand after breaking away from one car, careening off at least one other car and flying over a 12-foot catch fence intended to protect spectators. The fence is on top of the three-foot track wall.

About 5,000 people were in the stands watching the Mid-American Stock Car Series race at the Winston National Short Track Championships.

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