Jun 21, 2013, 5:32 PM EST
Several safety experts believe Jason Leffler‘s chance of survival from last week’s fatal crash may have been enhanced if he used a full containment headrest similar to those mandated by NASCAR.
Citing longtime safety pioneer Bill Simpson and race car seat maker and former two-time Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie, ESPN.com reported that both men believe a 180-degree surround-style headrest may have saved Leffler’s life.
Leffler, 37, whose funeral service was this past Wednesday in Cornelius, N.C., was killed in a winged sprint car crash at Bridgeport (N.J.) Speedway on June 12. His car went out of control, hit a retaining wall and flipped over several times.
New Jersey state police are still investigating the cause of the wreck, but it’s believed a part in the front end of Leffler’s race car broke.
Even though Leffler was wearing a protective helmet and a head and neck restraint device to protect against front impacts, an autopsy performed on Leffler’s body by medical examiner Dr. Fredric Hellman found that the cause of death was from a blunt-force neck injury caused by a whipping motion of his head.
What Leffler did not have was a headrest that would keep his head aligned with the rest of his body in a lateral impact.
After talking with a number of witnesses, Simpson concluded, “My findings showed everything with the head and neck restraint is fine when you have a forward impact as long as it doesn’t go past 30 degrees, from one side to the other. There is no lateral protection with the head and neck restraint. Nothing.
“Your head can flop from side to side,” Simpson added. “There is nothing to stop it from doing that. That car that Leffler was driving, it did not have a 180-degree head surround like a [Sprint] Cup car has. When he crashed and landed on his side and stopped, his head kept going.”
LaJoie, who operates one of the leading seating companies in the sport, agreed: “(Leffler) wasn’t contained. That’s why we haven’t killed anyone in NASCAR, because we learned not to let the body and head move. Your head, chest and pelvis need to stay in line as close as possible.”
Video from NASCAR America
- McLaren reveals Honda-powered MP4-30 for 2015 F1 season 0
- LeBron James’ agent involved in Darrell Wallace Jr.’s hunt for sponsorship 1
- Sponsorship woes leave Jeb Burton scrambling again for a NASCAR ride 3
- Sprint Cup champ Kevin Harvick: “I’m as comfortable as I’ve ever been” 0
- Danica Patrick enters final year of contract but wants to stay at Stewart-Haas 14
- Start times for 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races 9
- Bowyer on Gordon: “You’re never good with somebody when it got that ugly” 25