Dan Wheldon Crash Video: ABC and IndyCar Handled Sad Situation With Class

Tom LoughreyAnalyst IIIOctober 16, 2011

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 16:  Team members line the pitlane as the drivers complete five memorial laps to honor Dan Wheldon, driver of the #77 Dallara Honda, who died of injuries in a massive fifteen car crash during the Las Vegas Indy 300 part of the IZOD IndyCar World Championships presented by Honda at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 16, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Rarely does an athlete pass away on his or her field of play. However, auto racing is unique because instead of being on a playing field or court, the athlete is in a machine that can travel at incredibly high speeds.

On Sunday, Dan Wheldon was killed in a terrifying 15-car crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After the accident, Wheldon was airlifted to University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a few hours later at age 33.

Upon hearing the news, officials at the event decided to cancel the day’s race. The racers decided to participate in a five-lap dedication to the life of Wheldon. The racers took to the track, going three-wide for five laps as music played along. The commentators went silent for the memorial.

ABC went on to show the crash again, a decision that some viewers questioned. However, it seems fair to have replayed the fatal crash for viewers who didn’t see it happen.

No one enjoys seeing the cause of someone’s death, but in such a digital age in sports, it seems like every injury and incident makes it to YouTube or somewhere else on the Internet.

This situation reminds me of both Dale Earnhardt’s tragic death in a 2001 NASCAR race and the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

I remember watching the coverage of Earnhardt’s crash. Yes, it was one of the saddest moments in NASCAR history, but people deserved to know and see how dangerous auto racing truly is.

Earnhardt’s crash was on the last lap of the race, so the situation was very different from Wheldon’s tragedy.

In 2010, Kumaritashvili was sent flying from the luge track and into a support pole in a training run. I heard about the crash soon after, but I was never able to see how it actually went down. Videos of the accident were removed after the young racer was pronounced dead.

I understand why the video of Kumaritashvili’s crash was removed, but I find it odd that the treatment of an athlete's death is completely different when the person who dies is hidden within a car.

For example, how do you think Wheldon’s family feels about the constant replaying of the incident?

The commentators on ABC handled the situation well, warning viewers before reshowing the video. But it’s still an odd double standard when considered in tandem with the incident at the 2010 Olympics.

Whatever the case, my thoughts and prayers go out to Wheldon’s friends and family.