Indy Racer Schmidt Paralyzed
Jan. 15, 2000
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Indy Racing League driver Sam Schmidt is a quadriplegic who will not drive or walk again, his car owner says.
``It's a lot worse than we first thought,'' Treadway said. ``Sam has the same injury as Christopher Reeve. His spinal cord got pinched between the third and fourth vertebrae.''
The 35-year-old Schmidt, who got his only career victory last year in his hometown of Las Vegas, was injured Jan. 6 when his Treadway Racing G Force-Aurora spun and hit the retaining wall at Walt Disney World Speedway in Buena Vista, Fla.
He was preparing for the season-opening Indy 200 on Jan. 29.
``Emerson Fittipaldi broke the same thing, and they repaired it,'' Treadway said, recalling an accident at Michigan Speedway in 1996. ``And Sam would have recovered just fine if his spinal cord hadn't been pinched.''
The impact left Schmidt unconscious and not breathing. IRL safety crews revived him before transporting him to Orlando's Regional Medical Center, where he underwent a three-hour spinal surgery. Doctors placed pins in his upper spine to fuse the damaged vertebra and relieve pressure, said medical center spokesman Joe Brown.
Treadway said Schmidt is now on a ventilator.
``But doctors say he's almost breathing on his own, and that's almost a miracle,'' Treadway said.
He expects Schmidt to be transferred to a hospital for quadriplegics within two or three days to begin rehabilitation.