Every week crewman and mechanics load the haulers with their cars after the race. They ride up on a 15 foot lift and push the cars into the haulers. Most of the time the garage area is wet from teams emptying there coolers and such. As was the case this past weekend in Atlanta. Crewman Aaron Pieratt, a gas man for the 38 Front Row team, was going up on the lift and started to push the car in the hauler. Around that point his foot slipped and he went backwards off the the lift. Aaron is a 15 year veteran on pit road and knows the ropes. This can happen to anyone and when it does it can turn very bad very quickly. Pittalks was able to catch up with Aaron get the inside scoop on what really happened and how he’s doing.
What happened this weekend after the race? I work as a road mechanic as well as pit crew member. After the race I went back to load the car on the hauler. After the race there was a lot of water on the pavement. Once I got there and went up on the lift, my foot slipped in towards the car and cause me to fall backwards. I was up about 15 feet and landed on a tire cart on my way down which saved me from knocking my head in the pavement.
Have you ever seen anyone fall before? According to the Nascar people it happens a lot more than people think. There was an incident in NH years ago and I think I ended up better than him.
When you first fell what were you thinking on your way down? I think I had an “Oh S#?t” moment on the way down. Once I hit it took me a second to get my barrings.
Once you hit, what was your first thought? I pretty much just laid there. I was completely aware of what was going on and I just tried to see if I was going to get up or just wait for help.
Who was the first person to come over and check on you? Don’t really know, I remember people calling for an ambulance but I can’t really tell you who the first was. At that point the ambulance was there and I was strapped on a backboard with a neck collar and taking to infield care.
Did you end up spending the night in the hospital? Well, I went to the infield care and they checked me out really well. I had a pretty sharp pain in my wrist and felt something was broke. They told me when I got up I could leave and go home that night. When I got up to go leave I couldn’t walk out the door. My sciadic nerve had been impacted so hard that it was freaking out and I couldn’t rotate my leg. They sent me to the hospital for four hours and then you drove home after that. Pat Tryson was there the whole time and drove me home after we left. He was a great guy to have around and helped me a ton.
How are you doing now? I went to Ortho Carolina on Tuesday and I have a small break in my right hand. The worst is the walking part. I had major pelvic bruising and it’s taken me 4 days just to get to about 80%. I’ve been in therapy all week and will probably continue for the next few weeks.
When do you think you’ll be back to pitting? I’m aiming for next week at Chicagoland. Ortho Carolina is making me a special brace for my broken hand so I can fuel. I can remove it before the race and then put it back on after it.
Some of the people I would like to thank: John Hayes, Pat Tryson—sticking with me at the hospital and taking me home. Dr. Lynne Kushnerinko and Angela Sneed—both these ladies have helped me with rehab. All the friends and fans that have sent me well wishes
Thanks for sharing your story with us and good luck with the rehab. We look forward to seeing back at the track. If you want to follow Aaron on twitter you can at @aaronpieratt