Former MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden died in hospital on Monday, five days after he was hit by a car while training on his bicycle. Hayden, an Owensboro, Kentucky, native was 35.
Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where Hayden had been since the collision last Wednesday, made the announcement. Hayden had severe cerebral damage and multiple traumatic injuries.
“The medical team has verified the death of the patient Nicholas Patrick Hayden, who has been undergoing care since last Wednesday, May 17, in the intensive care unit of the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena following a very serious polytrauma which occurred the same day,” the hospital statement said.
Hayden, known as “The Kentucky Kid” was training on the Rimini coast following a motorcycle race at nearby Imola. The black Peugeot car that hit Hayden had its front windshield smashed.
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Judicial authorities have opened an investigation into the incident and questioned the 30-year-old driver of the Peugeot.
“On behalf of the whole Hayden family and Nicky’s fiancée Jackie I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support,” Hayden’s brother Tommy said in a statement. “It has been a great comfort to us all knowing that Nicky has touched so many people’s lives in such a positive way.
“Although this is obviously a sad time, we would like everyone to remember Nicky at his happiest — riding a motorcycle. He dreamed as a kid of being a pro rider and not only achieved that but also managed to reach the pinnacle of his chosen sport in becoming World Champion. We are all so proud of that.
“Apart from these ‘public’ memories, we will also have many great and happy memories of Nicky at home in Kentucky, in the heart of the family. We will all miss him terribly.”
Nicky Hayden won the MotoGP title in 2006, finishing narrowly ahead of Italian great Valentino Rossi.
In a MotoGP career spanning 2003-16 with Honda and Ducati, Hayden posted three victories and 28 podium finishes in 218 races.
After switching to the World Superbike championship last year, Hayden finished fifth overall.
Hayden was 13th in Superbike this season, riding for the Red Bull Honda team.
“Racing motorcycles is just a way of life for me,” Hayden said in a 2016 interview. “It’s what I know, it’s what I’ve always done, my family does it, my friends do it, and it really is more than just a job. It’s a passion. Bikes are a way of life for me.”
Fellow motorcycle racers reacted to Hayden’s death on Twitter.
“I’m shattered after the news. We will never forget you!” wrote three-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez.
“Always in my heart, champ. RIP Nicky. #69,” wrote MotoGP standout Dani Pedrosa.