Grand Prix spectator struck by debris sues City of St. Pete

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Brigitte Hoffstetter jumped on St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman’s plea to “embrace the race” at this year’s Grand Prix by taking a hunk of debris to the head.

While watching a race at the St. Petersburg Firestone Grand Prix, Hoffstetter was hit in the head and knocked to the ground by a piece of an experimental “wing/aero kit.”

Hoffstetter alleges the fall caused her to fall backward and strike her head at 12-14 mph unimpeded. She was hospitalized following the injury with a fractured skull.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, her husband said she was lucky to be alive.

Hoffstetter, who is pregnant, hired an investigator to look into whether or not there’s a possible negligent suit against the city.

However, the St. Petersburg Police Department allegedly has refused to allow the investigator to inspect the piece of debris that struck Hoffstetter.

Now she and her husband, Gary Hoffstetter, are seeking a “pure bill of discovery” to force the agency to comply with their request.

The IndyCar series is investigating the event. Because it was the first time drivers were behind the wheel of cars using the new aero flaps, there were several issues.

Debris from the new design led to record caution stoppages.

According to Hoffstetter’s lawsuit, she suffered other possible injuries as well including “injuries to her cervical spine and temporomandibular joints.” The incident also “subjected her high-risk pregnancy to serious risks and possible complications.”

Hoffstetter was reportedly about 100 yards away from turn 10 on the street track. The debris flew over the grand stands and struck Hoffstetter where she was standing in the concession area.

According to reports she was treated by St. Pete Fire and Rescue promptly.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email [email protected]