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During the opening stage Thursday of the Monte-Carlo Rally, #4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC driver Hayden Paddon flipped his vehicle, which resulted in the death of a spectator.
30-year-old Paddon and navigator John Kennard were heading into a left-hand bend when they slid off the icy road and hit a bank, flipping the car on its side.
It’s uncertain whether the car directly struck the victim, a Spanish photographer in his early fifties, who was unconscious when emergency services arrived on the scene, or whether the impact caused the man to fall from the embankment.
He was airlifted to Pasteur Hospital in Nice but died soon after.
Paddon and Kennard were not injured.
In a statement, the Automobile Club de Monaco confirmed, “The spectator was transported by helicopter from the stage to a hospital in Nice. Despite the best efforts of the medical staff, the spectator has sadly died.”
Stating that an investigation has been launched into the incident, ACM added, “Everyone associated with the event extends their deepest sympathies and condolences to the families, friends and individuals affected.”
Hyundai Motorsport, in an official statement, also extended its condolences and said, “The team and crew have pledged their full support to the event organisers and authorities to understand the full details.”
On Friday, Mr Paddon, who has withdrawn from the rally, posted a statement:
“Firstly, our thoughts are with the family and friends of the spectator involved,” said Paddon.
“No matter the circumstances, this is never something we want to see.
“Secondly, John and I are humbled by all the messages of support at this time. Obviously, my thoughts are with the family and that is my only concern at the moment. Not being able to return home to New Zealand does make it a little tougher but it is important we stay strong.
“I do want to take this chance to ask people not to speculate. Irrespective of how and why the accident happened, finger pointing will not change anything. The most important is that we learn from this and I am committed to work with the FIA and rally organisers relentlessly to ensure this does not happen again.”
Article first published January 20, 2017.
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