1968 APBA Gold Cup
Race Crash Fatal to Gardner
DETROIT — (AP) — Warner Gardner, injured when his powerboat flew into the air and disintegrated when it smashed into the Detroit River in Sunday's Gold Cup race, died yesterday.
Detroit General Hospital said death came approximately 24 hours after his two-ton hydroplane smashed it-self to bits at an estimated 130 miles an hour.
The 52-year-old retired Air Force lieutenant colonel underwent surgery for removal of a brain blood clot and suffered what Dr. Sinclair Finch described as general physical concussion of the head, chest and abdomen, as well as severe shock.
Earlier in the day, Dr. Finch had described Gardner as "still hanging on and his vital signs remain good," but he added that Gardner was in very grave condition.
After being conscious at intervals, he lapsed into a coma yesterday.
Gardner, who made his home in Bay City, Mich., was a World War II fighter pilot and took up. speedboat racing while stationed at nearby Selfridge Air Force Base before his retirement.
Driving the 30-foot Eagle Electric, Gardner was in second place in the final Gold Cup heat when his boat suddenly became airborne, flipped on its side and exploded into fragments as it smashed back against the water.
A Coast Guard helicopter plucked Gardner from the water. He had been thrown out with such force his helmet was ripped off.
The heat was restarted after the tragic event and Bill Schumacher successfully defended the Gold Cup, which he won last year. Gardner and Schumacher each had won three of the seven races held this year, going into the Gold Cup competition. Schumacher drives Miss Bardahl.
It was the second time in three years that tragedy had marked the Gold Cup. In 1966, also on the Detroit River, Chuck Thompson died when his craft, Miss Smirnoff, caught a wave and broke into pieces as it flipped.
(Reprinted from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 10, 1968)
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