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Eric Medlen, one of the more popular young drivers on the NHRA circuit, died Friday from severe head injuries suffered in an accident earlier this week. He was 33.

Three days after brain surgery, Medlen was taken off artificial life support systems by his family in accordance with his wishes, said Dr. Joseph Layon, chief of critical care medicine at the University of Florida.

A Funny Car driver for John Force Racing, Medlen suffered the injury Monday when his car crashed into the guardwall during testing at Gainesville Raceway.

"Eric suffered from severe traumatic brain injury with diffuse axonal injury, or DAI," Layon said. "Survival rates associated with DAI are low."

Medlen was hospitalized at Shands at the University of Florida Medical Center, where he underwent a delicate three-hour operation Tuesday. According to Layon, he had a cranjectomy, which removed the front portion of the skull to relieve pressure in an attempt to improve blood flow to the brain.

However, Medlen never regained consciousness from his drug-induced coma and ultimately succumbed to the injuries.

"Despite receiving the most aggressive treatment, Eric continued to have uncontrollable intracranial pressure," Layon said. "His body lost the ability to manage its salt and water levels, and he began displaying the complicating factors associated with DAI."

Medlen has finished fourth in the NHRA Funny Car standings each of the last two years and has six career wins. He was a crew member for John Force Racing before getting in the car.

"Eric Medlen was the son I never had," Force said. "He was the leader of my next generation of drivers. ... This loss is a huge blow not only to the Medlen family, but to drag racing and to John Force Racing."

"Words cannot describe how everyone at NHRA is feeling after the passing of one of our brightest young stars, Eric Medlen," NHRA president Tom Compton said in a statement. "He earned his way to the top through hard work and perseverance and, in doing so, gained the respect of his fellow competitors."



:angel: R.I.P. :angel:
 

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RIP Eric. I haven't followed NHRA that much but when I catch it every now and then I always heard a lot about Eric and his talent. He had a very bright future ahead of him in the sport but it ended way too soon. :(
 

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Sad to hear!!! My hopes are with his Family & Friends
 

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I was sad to read this the other day. I have followed drag racing for many many years now and have seen a bunch of nasty wrecks both on tv and in person and the sport has lost a bunch of great talent over the years. It seems like about one driver a year in NHRA is getting killed or very badly injured over the past decade or so. My hats off to Nascar for the safety equipment the put into the cars these days. To bad the NHRA can't do much more then what they already do to protect the drivers. When a car is going over 300mph all you can do is hang on a hope you get it shut donw at the end of the strip and the person you are racing doesn't have any problems either.
 
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