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Thu, 4 Sep 2008, 06:20 PM

Engel Remains in Indy Hospital Following High-speed Accident
Courtesy of Scott "Woody" Woodruff

INDIANAPOLIS -- Pro Mod racer Steve Engel remains in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit of Methodist Hospital after suffering a high-speed accident Saturday evening at the 54th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.

Engel's Corvette went out of control near the top end of the quarter-mile and impacted the retaining wall so severely that all racing action was halted for the evening as safety crews worked to repair the damage. Engel, meanwhile, was airlifted to Methodist Hospital by medical helicopter.

According to his wife Tonya, Engel suffered damage to six vertebrae in his spine. As a precaution and to keep him from moving and further complicating his injuries, he's been medically sedated since doctors first examined him.

An initial surgery was preformed to repair two of the vertebrae. As doctors waited for swelling in the area to subside, Engel developed fluid in one of his lungs, which has delayed further repairs.

Erroneous reports of Engel being completely paralyzed are unfounded, according to Tonya. It is simply far too early in the process to make such determinations. His team of doctors remains hopeful that once all the repairs are made he'll be able to make large strides towards a full recovery. The best news is that Engel's spinal canal was not compromised.

"Everyone is very concerned about Steve's condition," said JEGS Director of Media Scott Woodruff. "We're all praying for a complete recovery, and we're keeping Tonya and the rest of Steve's family and team in our thoughts and urge others to do so.

"It's shocking to all of us when something like this happens. Although everyone knows the inherit risks involved with our sport, it's still hard to take when something does happen. That was a bad wreck; one of the worse many of us had ever seen. The fact he's alive is a miracle in itself. Thank goodness for all the safety things we have in place.

"We call on everyone to keep Steve and Tonya in their prayers."

Engel won his first race on the JEGS ProMod Challenge earlier this year in Bristol, Tenn. The 49-year-old from Shandon, Ohio, owns and operates Diamond Heavy Haul, a trucking and trailer manufacturing business. He has two sons, Steve Jr. and Mikey.

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