A Bardstown middle-schooler remains in Kosair Children’s Hospital and may never walk again after he was struck on the track at Bourbon City Speedway in Bardstown early Sunday, according to the Kentucky Standard.
David Ritchie, 13, suffered multiple injuries including a broken back, bruised spinal cord and several broken ribs, according to his stepfather, Michael Auberry, who was working at the Bardstown go-kart racing track when the teen was injured.
Auberry said he was working in the flag tower Saturday night in a role that is responsible for signaling the racers if there are any cautions. Ritchie was working on the side of the track, responsible for signaling racers as they went by of any cautions.
Two karts spun out, Auberry said, and he lit the caution light. Ritchie also waved his yellow caution flag, but then went to cross the track, stepping right into the path of at least two karts.
Auberry said the karts can reach speeds of 60 mph and weigh about 325 pounds including the driver. He said the drivers tried to slow to avoid Ritchie, but could not stop or swerve in time.
“No one is to blame for this,” Auberry said.
Auberry said Ritchie was just going to see if the drivers were alright.
“David made a bad decision. He made a split-second decision and, apparently, it was the wrong one.”
Auberry said he has been involved with racing for more than 15 years, and his stepson loved the sport and had volunteered for at least 18 months alongside him.
“He is seasoned, this is not his first week, this was not his first month,” Auberry said, stressing that racing brings with it certain dangers. “He loved the sport of racing.”
But he said he and his family have received some criticism for Ritchie’s presence at the track.
“Everyone has their own opinion and I respect everybody’s opinion,” Auberry said. “But people are sitting there trying to say on Facebook and stuff we are bad parents. But that is furthest from the truth.”
Auberry said he was in radio contact with his stepson the whole race.
“He was right there at the edge and he just bolted.”
Auberry said his family bore no ill will toward the speedway owners or the drivers, and said the support from the “racing family” has been overwhelming.
Pauline Settles, one of the promoters at the track, said she had enjoyed getting to know Ritchie.
“It’s probably one of the worst things I have gone through watching that happen,” Settles said.
She said Ritchie is young, but he was passionate about racing and knew just about every aspect of the track.
“He’s just an awesome kid,” she said. “Polite. He’s just the perfect little boy.”
Ritchie remained in a medically induced coma in intensive care Tuesday, although Auberry said Ritchie had responded to his parents. He is expected to remain there until next week, Auberry said, after which he will probably require a month or more of rehabilitation. Auberry said doctors have given the teen about a 10 percent chance of walking again.
“This is real sad. It’s real sad. But it’s one of those things that was unpreventable,” Auberry said. “It’s one of those freak accidents that can happen in any sport.”