Geddes (WSYR-TV) - Thousands of fans at the Syracuse Nationals showcase looked on as a volunteer flag man standing near the finish line of a drag race, was hit by one of the drag cars.
A Rural Metro ambulance already stationed at the event took Joseph E. Felber, 59, of Syracuse to Upstate University Hospital. A son told NewsChannel 9 that Felber was in recovery after surgery for a broken leg and shoulder, a fractured elbow, a concussion, and a bruised lung. The son, Ed Felber, said his father did not have any internal injuries.
Police said the drag strip driver was racing a 1922 Ford pickup truck down the track when he began to slide out of the racing lane. Joseph Felber was standing in the center of the track and flew into the air after the impact.
Roy Jamison and his friends from Texas witnessed the incident.
Jamison recorded the event and just as his battery was about to die, he captured the entire crash on his iPad.
“The way he hit I thought it may have killed him but we saw his leg move and then they said he was conscious so I sent up a prayer that he would be okay,” said Jamison.
"It scared us when we saw the car stop. The driver jumped out. It scared us. We were all gasping and didn't know what to do,” said witness Angie Reed.
Reed said rescue crews were on the scene within seconds.
"We were relieved to see his head moving and then his hands and legs and then we felt a big relief because we were all so stunned,” said Reed.
The dramatic scene convinced event organizers to cancel the remainder of events Friday night as well as Saturday evening's scheduled drag race.
When asked if safety procedures would change in the future regarding the position of flag volunteers, Syracuse Nationals spokesperson Bob McLean said it was too early to determine their next step.
"Clearly, we need to look at the event and see what caused the accident and make the appropriate corrections, if they are needed," said McLean. "It was an accident and we have to determine what caused the accident and that is the state police investigation."
Flame throwing shows and fireworks were still scheduled to proceed at the fairgrounds Saturday night.