Michael Stefanik, a well-known and successful NASCAR driver, has been killed due to injuries from a plane crash along the Rhode Island-Connecticut border. While the exact cause of the crash is still under investigation, authorities say that the single-seat, single engine Aerolite 103 took off from Riconn Airport in Coventry, Rhode Island on Sunday. It was turning back toward the airfield when it crashed into a wooded area near the airport. Stefanik walked away from the wreck, but died shortly after.
Allen Sayles, who lives near the airfield told the press that his grandson witnessed Stefanik initially walking away from the crash site.
“They said he was walking and takling. He was out of the plane. He was like 15 feet from the plane.”
Sayles also described his account of what happened.
“We heard the plane coming, which we see all the time, then all of a sudden he just missed the treetops and my wife said, “That plane is going to crash.”
“I says, “No, you just can’t see it over the treetops,” and then we seen big powerful smoke and my grandson and his father went running down there,’ said Sayles. ‘Four to five seconds later, we heard a big explosion and I called 911.”
Sayles said he was familiar with the plane and that Stefanik would often fly it around the area.
‘We see it a lot,’ said Sayles. ‘He comes up and goes around a couple times and tests it, I think. It was one of those little hand glider one person planes, fiber wings.’
Stefanik won the NASCAR series championship nine times to tie Hall of Famer Richie Evans for the record.
In 1999, he won Rookie Of The Year in what is now called the NASCAR Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck series.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France released this statement about the tragedy: “Mike Stefanik was one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history, but even more so, he was a true representative of our sport. His tough, competitive nature and excellence on the race track won him the admiration of cans and competitors alike.”
What is your favorite of memory of Michael Stefanik? Tell us in the comments below!
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