A 37 year-old man is lucky to be alive after being hit by a car at the the Delaware State Fair demolition derby July 25. He suffered a broken sternum and ribs, along with minor internal injuries but is expected to make a full recovery.
A Pennsylvania man is recovering from injuries sustained in an accident at the Delaware State Fair demolition derby July 25.
Michael Rauenzahn, 37, of Bernville, Pa., owner and promoter of J&J Demolition Derbies, was struck by one of the cars just as the race got underway.
According to race announcer David Brown, Rauenzahn was walking next to a concrete barrier beside the stage when he saw a car creeping closer in his direction.
Brown said he and Rauenzahn were only a few feet apart, but Brown had a height advantage since he was up on stage.
“The car started toward us and I had a feeling he wasn’t going to stop, I had a feeling something was wrong with the car,” he said.
Instead of shouting at Rauenzahn to get out the way, which he wouldn’t have heard over the loud rumble of the cars, Brown yelled into the microphone for him to look out.
“Mike turned and saw the car coming and tried to dive underneath the stage,” he said.
Yet under the stage, there are metal support beams, which Rauenzahn couldn’t escape. The car upended partially on the concrete barrier, the front end nearly crushing Rauenzahn under the stage.
Brown said the weight of the car rested on Rauenzahn’s shoulders, the metal bars underneath were the only protection from him being completely crushed.
“My first reaction was he’s dead, there’s no way he can survived this,” he said.
Miraculously, Rauenzahn remained conscious and coherent as EMTs and firefighters quickly responded. He later was airlifted to Christiana Hospital in Newark.
Gary Conaway of Seaford was video taping the event for J&J Demolition and was across the track when Rauenzahn was struck. From his vantage point he didn’t realize someone was injured under the vehicle.
He said it’s rare for someone to be seriously injured at a derby and is thankful the volunteer firefighters responded so quickly, literally lifting the car to free Rauenzahn.
“It’s a good example of people working together to avoid serious injury,” he said.
Rauenzahn’s wife Shanna, who was at the derby, didn’t see her husband get hit, but knew by her father’s reaction that it was serious.
She remembers Brown consoling her, telling her that her husband was alert and able to talk.
Shanna said her husband had suffered a broken sternum and ribs, along with minor internal injuries.
She expressed her appreciation for the work of the medical teams and the support she’s gotten from her friends and family, adding her husband returned home Tuesday afternoon. He is expected to make a full recovery.
Freelance photographer Betsy Gustafson contributed to the story.
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