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Thread: Swede Savage's Death?

  1. #1

    Swede Savage's Death?

    I know that this is hard, but I heard two stories. One that he died because of injuries in the accident. The other that it was unrelated to the accident. Could anyone help.

  2. #2
    The Ladder Broke in 74
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSJLW
    I know that this is hard, but I heard two stories. One that he died because of injuries in the accident. The other that it was unrelated to the accident. Could anyone help.
    From Wikipedia
    Savage's attending physician at Indy (and later CART's Director of Medical Affairs), claimed in his book "Rapid Response" that the real cause of death was complications related to contaminated plasma. Olvey claimed that Savage contracted hepatitis B from a transfusion, causing his liver to fail.


    I'm starting to think that Savage maybe shouldn't be considered an Indy Fatality.
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  3. #3
    It is sad, but at that time you could not sue hospitals...Also was there blood screening back in 1973. Just not sure. Back when Speed was good they used to have highlights of old Indy 500's. I am almost certain they showed Savage's incident but didn't say it was fatal, then again Pollard the same year wasn't showned at all.

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    Insider lotuspoweredbyford's Avatar
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    As I have mentioned before, I spoke to someone who saw Swede in the hospital.

    The person I am referring to was VERY connected to racing.

    This person said Swede was recovering nicely, and was expected to live, but suddenly went downhill.

    I am not a doctor, but certainly Dr. Olvey's account seems plausible.
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    I live for May in Indy! Rick Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BSJracing
    I'm starting to think that Savage maybe shouldn't be considered an Indy Fatality.
    Watch the You Tube video of Swede's wreck and you will see a driver sitting on the track, still attached to a potion of the destroyed car, enveloped in a ball of fire and in great pain, struggling to survive. Blood transfussion or not, the crash led to his death!
    God speed!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by lotuspoweredbyford
    As I have mentioned before, I spoke to someone who saw Swede in the hospital.

    The person I am referring to was VERY connected to racing.

    This person said Swede was recovering nicely, and was expected to live, but suddenly went downhill.

    I am not a doctor, but certainly Dr. Olvey's account seems plausible.

    Thanks, you really answered my questions well. Also that hepatits which somehow caused the infection that took his life.

  7. #7
    The Ladder Broke in 74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Jones
    Watch the You Tube video of Swede's wreck and you will see a driver sitting on the track, still attached to a potion of the destroyed car, enveloped in a ball of fire and in great pain, struggling to survive. Blood transfussion or not, the crash led to his death!
    The crash itself was survivable...see Lotus's reply. Yes he was in the hospital as a result of the crash, but he should have survived.

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    Insider lotuspoweredbyford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BSJracing
    The crash itself was survivable...see Lotus's reply. Yes he was in the hospital as a result of the crash, but he should have survived.
    According to the person I spoke with, Swede should have survived.

    That person, and Dr. Olvey, who is obviously well-respected, both point to the "tainted" blood as the true cause of death.

  9. #9
    Magnafluxed
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    Quote Originally Posted by BSJracing
    From Wikipedia
    Savage's attending physician at Indy (and later CART's Director of Medical Affairs), claimed in his book "Rapid Response" that the real cause of death was complications related to contaminated plasma. Olvey claimed that Savage contracted hepatitis B from a transfusion, causing his liver to fail.
    Interesting. I asked my wife about this; she's a medical lab manager and used to work for the American Red Cross as a blood banking manager. She says that they have been screening for hepatitis-B for over half a century. Of course, we don't know where the plasma that was administered to Savage came from.

    Another possibility is that it was really hepatitis-C. Back in the '70s there were few tests for that, and my wife says that the Red Cross didn't began screening for it until 1981.

    However... she's not sure that either form of hepatitis would have progressed that far in six weeks, even given Savage's condition. She says that hepatitis was generally not as virulent a disease back then, and that hep-C (which back then was referred to as "non-A, non-B hepatitis") was seldom fatal at all, even untreated.

    Of course, Olvey's a doctor, and he was there, so his opinion has to carry some weight. I'd like to hear him say more about this.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by cornutt
    Interesting. I asked my wife about this; she's a medical lab manager and used to work for the American Red Cross as a blood banking manager. She says that they have been screening for hepatitis-B for over half a century. Of course, we don't know where the plasma that was administered to Savage came from.

    Another possibility is that it was really hepatitis-C. Back in the '70s there were few tests for that, and my wife says that the Red Cross didn't began screening for it until 1981.

    However... she's not sure that either form of hepatitis would have progressed that far in six weeks, even given Savage's condition. She says that hepatitis was generally not as virulent a disease back then, and that hep-C (which back then was referred to as "non-A, non-B hepatitis") was seldom fatal at all, even untreated.

    Of course, Olvey's a doctor, and he was there, so his opinion has to carry some weight. I'd like to hear him say more about this.

    That sounded a little weird to me, and now that a medical professional said so. Hepatitis Fatalities usually happen after months or years. Then again Lotus said something about the hepatitis weaking his kidneys enough for another infection. Now 100% sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSJLW
    That sounded a little weird to me, and now that a medical professional said so. Hepatitis Fatalities usually happen after months or years. Then again Lotus said something about the hepatitis weaking his kidneys enough for another infection. Now 100% sure.
    Could be. Anything that compromises the liver weakens the immune system, and Savage's was probably already weakened from his burn injuries. It might have opened the door to all kinds of opportunistic infections, a bit like what happens to end-stage AIDS patients.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSJLW
    That sounded a little weird to me, and now that a medical professional said so. Hepatitis Fatalities usually happen after months or years. Then again Lotus said something about the hepatitis weaking his kidneys enough for another infection. Now 100% sure.
    I can tell you, you never know with things of this nature.

    My fiancee' died of a rare heart condition in 2006. Her x-ray in August of 2006 was normal.

    On December 20th, 2006, doctors did another routine X-ray and told her to rush to a hospital.

    There, they told me and her parents that we would be planning a funeral, without a double lung and heart transplant (which she would not have survived).

    Doctors at one of the best hospitals in the world, the Cleveland Clinic, said they had never seen a case like hers, and the disease which struck her, only about 2,500 new cases are diagoned in america every year.

    Doctors say that the progression they saw in her heart usually would take years, not months.

    She passed away a little after Christmas 2006, 6 days after walking into the hospital "just fine".

    You just never know with these kinds of things.

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    Insider BADGER's Avatar
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    This is the first time I ever heard that Swede was recovering nicely though I have not read the book in question. I do remember that the injuries were definitely considered life threatening and from memory, he had severe burns over a large portion of his body. I think I read that the reason he couldn't get out of the car was due to broken limbs, and its pretty graphic watching the old video of the wreck because you can clearly see him struggling to try to move when the flames erupt.

  14. #14
    First, sorry about your loss Lotus.

    Second, I see his immune system causing something else. You see I have battling a stomach ailment, and unfortunatly one of the side effects is a weakend immune system. The stomach ailment is pretty much under control because of meds, but the meds cause problems with my immune system. Right now that would sound the most reasonable explanation, and understand it first hand.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by BADGER
    This is the first time I ever heard that Swede was recovering nicely though I have not read the book in question. I do remember that the injuries were definitely considered life threatening and from memory, he had severe burns over a large portion of his body. I think I read that the reason he couldn't get out of the car was due to broken limbs, and its pretty graphic watching the old video of the wreck because you can clearly see him struggling to try to move when the flames erupt.

    That is why I posted this topic there are two different stories and both in my opinion seem credible, there is not any lying but possible a misunderstanding because of all the information and misinformation. I got my ideas a few days ago on Motorsports Memorial, where I based my story by. Lotus told me about the story from Mr.Ovley, I'm just really confussed right now.

  16. #16
    Insider BADGER's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure that one of the things that even gave Swede a chance was he was wearing the newest fire protectant suit. I think that year was the first year nomex suits were used.

  17. #17
    If Savage did die from a blood transfusion problem,then he falls into the same category as Ronnie Peterson,in that he died needlessly after an accident at the track.

  18. #18
    Can we add one of favorites as a small child Elio de Angelis and Mark Donohue. Maybe not the same as them, but still needless. At least that was the story I heard about de Angelis, he had non life-threatening injuries only to lose his life because there was no ambulance or emergency responce during his test session. I'm so glad it is so different now adays, sure there are others but these were two that I remembers

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by JSJLW
    Can we add one of favorites as a small child Elio de Angelis and Mark Donohue. Maybe not the same as them, but still needless. At least that was the story I heard about de Angelis, he had non life-threatening injuries only to lose his life because there was no ambulance or emergency responce during his test session. I'm so glad it is so different now adays, sure there are others but these were two that I remembers


    Or, dare I mention it, Roger Williamson at Zandvoort '73...


    Indyote...

  20. #20
    Planning dalz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BADGER
    I'm pretty sure that one of the things that even gave Swede a chance was he was wearing the newest fire protectant suit. I think that year was the first year nomex suits were used.
    I've read that he was wearing a suit that was connected to a supply of foam supressant that was supposed to release if fire broke out, but since he was ripped away from almost everything on the car, it didn't work. I've never heard any other reference to such a driver's suit system, and I can't fathom how it would even function or if it would be effective.

    Sadly at this point I think we might as well try to figure out who was behind JFK's shooting. If his treatment was really botched, would the hospital or attendants be 100% straight?

  21. #21
    Swede started his spin to the inside wall right in front of us in Stand J. Watching the accident unfold, my Mom said later she decided this would be her last race. She had been coming since 59, and I think she just felt she had seen the last driver die that she cared about.

    Watching the replay, and seeing Swede fighting to get himself free, makes me think he was a Superman. That hit was SOOOO hard.

    The one and only time I got to go to Pocono was that year, and we heard word on the radio on the way down that Swede had passed away. Very sad ending to the saddest month I have ever been thru at the Brickyard.
    I don't have the link handy, but an old friend from out west had built a nice tribute site to Swede, and helped with the one for Mel Kenyon as well.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by cornutt
    Interesting. I asked my wife about this; she's a medical lab manager and used to work for the American Red Cross as a blood banking manager. She says that they have been screening for hepatitis-B for over half a century. Of course, we don't know where the plasma that was administered to Savage came from.

    Another possibility is that it was really hepatitis-C. Back in the '70s there were few tests for that, and my wife says that the Red Cross didn't began screening for it until 1981.
    There was a time which Savage's cause of death was written to be "pnuemonia." It sounded more like a generic description of a more serious condition. It sounded like they were trying to hide what complications he may have really contracted.

  23. #23
    I live for May in Indy! Rick Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctorindy
    There was a time which Savage's cause of death was written to be "pnuemonia." It sounded more like a generic description of a more serious condition. It sounded like they were trying to hide what complications he may have really contracted.
    My uncle who is a doctor stopped in to see Swede in the hospital as well. His take was different than what has been shared in this thread. The "pnuemonia" referrence that came about is because Swede inhaled the flames and injured his lungs. This type of injury places the victim at risk of picking up all sorts of infections and complications. It took years before Dr. Olvey revealed the blood transfussion senario, and I see no reason why he would share anything but the truth in regard to Savage's death. I do question why he took until writing his book to make this public. I know we are splitting hairs here, but the bottom line is a talented young driver lost his life. A very bad accident was the initial cause of Swede's death.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BADGER
    This is the first time I ever heard that Swede was recovering nicely though I have not read the book in question.
    It wouldn't be the first time that the commonly propagated story about a driver's death turned out to be wrong. A few years ago, we had a thread here about Art Pollard's death. At the time, it was widely reported that he had died from flame inhalation, and a bunch of us still thought that was the case. However, it turns out that the true story is he died of head injuries. Lemme see if I can hunt up the thread.

  25. #25
    Long before Dr. Olvey's book came out, probably a good 15 years or more, I remember hearing that Swede died of blood poisoning. And yes, the Ronnie Peterson comparison is good - his injuries were not considered life threatening IIRC.
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  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by dalz
    I've read that he was wearing a suit that was connected to a supply of foam supressant that was supposed to release if fire broke out, but since he was ripped away from almost everything on the car, it didn't work. I've never heard any other reference to such a driver's suit system, and I can't fathom how it would even function or if it would be effective.

    Sadly at this point I think we might as well try to figure out who was behind JFK's shooting. If his treatment was really botched, would the hospital or attendants be 100% straight?
    Mel Kenyon wore that suit in 74 I think at Indy, he didn't realize it but it had a small slow leak one day, by the end of the day, he had a huge rash burn from the chemicals getting onto his skin. (he never made the race that year)

  27. #27
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    It says this, on the Motorsports Memorial website:

    "Despite the sheer violence of the impact, and the fact that he was completely exposed by the impact, Savage never lost consciousness, and talked with doctors throughout his journey to the hospital. Even though Savage suffered extensive and complex fractures on his legs, his return to the tracks was considered sure, and Wally Dallenbach recruited by George Bignotti for Team Patrick-STP as a temporary replacement during his absence. Sadly, though, Savage succumbed to a kidney infection whilst still in hospital fifty-five days later."

    I guess we'll never really know for sure.

  28. #28
    The coolest. Roadrage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Littleman
    It says this, on the Motorsports Memorial website:

    "Despite the sheer violence of the impact, and the fact that he was completely exposed by the impact, Savage never lost consciousness, and talked with doctors throughout his journey to the hospital. Even though Savage suffered extensive and complex fractures on his legs, his return to the tracks was considered sure, and Wally Dallenbach recruited by George Bignotti for Team Patrick-STP as a temporary replacement during his absence. Sadly, though, Savage succumbed to a kidney infection whilst still in hospital fifty-five days later."

    I guess we'll never really know for sure.
    Ironically it was 33 days later.

  29. #29
    Planning dalz's Avatar
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    Thanks FIRST500, sounds like the system really did exist. I assume it used an outside tank that had to be connected to the driver once he strapped in? Did it work with a heat trigger, or manually, meaning it would be useless with an incapacitated driver?

    Forgive me for this morbid thought, but it always ran through my head--if Swede's crash had occured after lap 101, as the kid was LEADING, and if the rains came during the red flag...we came way too close to the heartless irony of a gravely wounded Indy winner. Damn.

  30. #30

    Unhappy

    Man, Swede was having the race of his life, the race that might have really made his career. I believe he was running 4th when the accident happend, and he had a decent day. One of those races that would have made a decent driver and a great driver.

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