Former NASCAR racer Shane Hmiel is recovering from surgery to heal injuries in his neck and back after his sprint car accident on Saturday night.
Hmiel was treated at Indianapolis' Methodist Hospital after he suffered a serious crash during qualifying for the Sumar Classic 100 USAC Silver Crown event at the Terre Haute Action Track near Indianapolis. The 30-year-old, son of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing director of competition Steve Hmiel, has been trying to rebuild his driving career for the past few years after being banned from NASCAR due to repeatedly failing substance abuse tests.
Despite initial fears of head injuries due to the nature of Saturday's accident, a scan revealed there was no permanent damage to his brain from the accident, in which Hmiel crashed head-on against the barrier and damaged the roll bar structure of his car.
"To hear the doctors say they don't think there's going to be any paralysis with a broken neck and broken back, we just went through that a month and a half ago with a close friend, and with Shane we didn't want to see that happen again," said Sunday's Sprint Cup race winner Tony Stewart at Fontana, following his victory. "That's why we mentioned it in victory lane. Definitely, our thoughts are with him right now for sure."
Initial surgery was performed on Sunday night to treat Hmiel's neck injuries and proved successful, with Hmiel reacting to stimulation and moving his extremities. On Monday he underwent a more critical second procedure on his back after exams revealed spinal cord injuries, but according to his mother, Lisa, the surgery "exceeded expectations."
Further updates on Hmiel's condition can be found on the Shane Hmiel - Road to Recovery Facebook page, where his family has been posting news since Sunday.