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More details emerge on race crash victim’s condition, more

On Saturday evening a 28-year-old Cape Girardeau man was seriously injured when his UTV rolled over and caught fire during a race at St. Francois County Raceway. Several others received burns as a result of trying to get to the man out of his UTV and extinguishing the flames.

The driver, Levi Lewis, was eventually rescued and airlifted to a trauma center in St. Louis to be treated for serious burns. At that time he was listed in critical condition.

Lewis’ father, Chris Lewis, took to Facebook earlier this week to discuss his son’s condition. While still in critical condition, he is doing much better than expected, the post said.

“As bad as his condition currently is, there are already miracles in this situation. Some of those are that Levis face did not take the brunt of the burns. While it is burned he should fully heal there. He has all of his fingers (and) toes. He has been responsive to spoken word (and) commands, when what we were told, was that he had been placed into a near coma state for a minimum of the next 30 days.

“His vital signs are on a higher trend than what the staff has been expecting in similar circumstances. He is still in critical condition (and) his current status is minute by minute (and) hour by hour to see what his body can do with the trauma. Again, he is trending better than they expected at this point.”

The race event was being hosted by Lucas Oil-sponsored Midwest Extreme Dirt Track. As reported in the initial story the day after the accident, the local track owners were not handling logistics at the track that night, but had simply rented out the facility for the special race. 

A representative with the St. Francois County Raceway said the event included dirt bikes, quads and UTVs.

The raceway spokesperson said the track ownership had agreed to make sure there was an ambulance on site, which they did, but all other logistics related to putting on the race were handled by the group renting the track.

“Anything above and beyond went to the MWEDT. They were responsible for their own officials, flagging, and everything that had to do with the race. The only thing we were doing as part of the track was supplying the venue, concessions and also prep work to make sure everything was done to their standard,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesman with the ambulance district initially indicated his staff took the lead on extinguishing the fire and rescuing the driver. 

The track representative said they had adequate fire extinguishers on hand to be able to get the fire out. It was a big fire, it was very hot and it took several extinguishes and more time that anyone would have suspected to get it out.

The representative stressed that the track staff/crew who were there for the race, those who rented the venue, did their job and anyone and everyone came down to aid in putting the fire out and getting the driver clear of the wreckage.

The representative said Lucas Oil MWEDT had their own fire suppression team on hand, and she personally witnessed a pile of at least eight fire extinguishers laying on the ground once the driver was out of the wreckage and the fire was out.

“They had enough to help put it out. Like I said, that fire was an explosion. It wasn’t a small fire that would sometimes normally start in a race car, it was an explosion,” the representative said. “It was completely engulfed in flames. Him and another driver got together, the UTV flipped, landed on its side, and as people were running to check on him before anyone could get there it literally burst into flames.”

“They aren’t sitting in a five-point harness and aren’t contained. Thank God the man had on a fire suit that was able to help protect him until everyone down there was able to get him out,” the representative said.

As for fire extinguishers located at the track for every race, the spokesperson said they keep fire extinguishers on each end of the track, by the flag stand and the concession stand. She said everything happened so quickly and the size of the fire made it harder to contain. The representative added they appreciate the ambulance district doing their job. She said everyone did what they could and everyone worked together to get the man out. 

According to the St. Francois County Raceway Facebook page, representatives of the local track have been praying and will continue to pray for God’s miraculous healing for Levi Lewis, the driver involved in the incident. They went on to thank everyone who came to the aid of the young man when the freak accident occurred. 

“As soon as he was out they (the ambulance staff) did a fantastic job of getting to him to assess his condition, knew he needed a helicopter immediately, and got him in the ambulance to get him ready for transport for the helicopter,” the representative added.

“To the men and women who came down to help we can’t say thank you, thank you, thank you, enough for what you did. It truly helped to save his life. We are praying for healing for the ones who suffered burns in the incident. We are praying for peace to the people who witnessed this tragic event. It was horrible to have to see. Our hearts go out to Levi Lewis and his entire family.”

This is still a developing story and the Daily Journal will bring more details as they become available.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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