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A freak accident involving a forklift lift platform at a Tennessee auto racing track left two people injured, including the speedway’s owner
The incident occurred about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Aust 16, at the Highland Rim Speedway, in Greenbrier, about 23 miles north of Nashville.
Racetrack owner Roger Cunningham, 60, of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, was elevated on a lift platform attached to a forklift driven by worker Moises Felipa, 34, while replacing flags along the race track in preparation for that night’s races. As the platform was being lowered to the ground, the vehicle’s engine suddenly shut off and the forklift rolled down the track, flipping over onto its back.
Transported via Helicopter
Cunningham was thrown from the platform a distance of about 20 feet to the ground. He was transported via LifeFlight helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he was treated for compound fractures to both legs, eight broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung. He was placed on a ventilator, but there was no signs of internal bleeding and a CT scan showed no damage to his brain.
Cunningham’s close friend and racetrack co-owner Jerry Criswell witnessed the incident.
“I though I had lost my best friend,” Criswell told the (Nashville) Tennessean. It looks like God has worked a miracle and he’s probably going to able to recover.”
Safety Protocols Followed
Cunningham apparently was taking all the necessary precautions while operating the lift platform and the job he was performing was one he had done many times before, according to Criswell.
“He was working out of a work platform that has a safety rail and all that stuff around it,” he said. “But he was just thrown out of it.”
Felipa also was thrown from the forklift but suffered only minor injuries. He was taken to NorthCrest Medical Center, in nearby Springfield, where he was treated and released.
Despite the accident, racing at the track continued as scheduled.
Family, Friends Praying for Recovery
Cunningham is a former race car driver who competed for more than 20 years. He and Criswell purchased the racetrack in2012.
Cunningham’s wife, Lucia Cunningham, said the pair have worked hard to make the track a safe, enjoyable destination for families.
“His heart and some sweat — and now blood and tears — have been put into that track to make it the best track in the area,” she said.
In addition to operating the race track, Cunningham also is vice president of national sales for Centurion Stone, a position he has held for many years.
His daughter, Kelli, said she was confident that her dad will make a full recovery.
“Just pray for him to bounce back, which we all know he will, because if you know my dad, you know there’s no holding him down,” she said.