The Boston Marathon bombing took a turn towards a NASCAR connection Friday, when the brother of a Hendrick Motorsports employee was killed during a shootout with the alleged bomber.
Sean Collier, who was killed in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Thursday night, was an MIT police officer on routine duty when the two bombing suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev confronted him. While the details remain unclear, Collier was caught in some sort of shootout with the suspects, hit with bullets multiple times and pronounced dead upon arrival at Massachusetts General Hospital just after 10:30 PM. He was 26 years old.
Sean was the brother of Hendrick Motorsports machinist Andrew Collier, a loyal employee who has been with the organization since September of 2008. The team, in confirming the connection Friday released a short statement asking for privacy for the 25-year-old and his family during this difficult time.
That left Sprint Cup point leader Jimmie Johnson filled with mixed emotions as he entered the weekend in Kansas Speedway. Though the team is off to a great start, with two victories in seven races, Hendrick Motorsports was filled with sadness Friday as news his fellow HMS employee spread across the garage. Though hearts in the NASCAR community were generally heavy, following the tragic news coming out of Massachusetts, it dealt a particular blow to everyone when the tragedy hit this close to home.
“Absolutely we’ll race with heavy hearts,” said Johnson. “I think all of us in society have paid attention to that and it’s hit somewhere deep in us. But in the last three hours, it’s gone to a new level knowing that a fellow teammate is directly involved.”
MIT university released a statement on the incident, saying, “While the circumstances around the officer’s death remain the subject of an active investigation, what is certain is that the officer gave his life to defend the peace of our campus. His sacrifice will never be forgotten by the Institute. We are thinking now of his family, and our hearts are heavy.”
Officer Collier’s brother, Andrew, received a degree from NASCAR Technical Institute in Charlotte after having volunteered for Able Motorsports while attending high school in Massachusetts. He worked as a mechanic for the No. 35 car in the Whelen Modified Tour and Busch North Series, in 2004 and 2005 before teaming up with Hendrick.
The Hendrick Motorsports teams are running a commemorative sticker on their cars for the victims of the tragedies in Massachusetts.
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