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Woman in hospital after piece of debris hits her in head at Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Debris from a section of the newly debuted aero body kit litters the track at Sunday’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. A woman was still in the hospital Monday with a fractured skull after she was struck by a piece of debris that flew off the track during the race. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times] 
Debris from a section of the newly debuted aero body kit litters the track at Sunday’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. A woman was still in the hospital Monday with a fractured skull after she was struck by a piece of debris that flew off the track during the race. [LUIS SANTANA | Times] 
Published Mar. 31, 2015

A spectator remains hospitalized after a piece of debris flew over the grandstands and fractured her skull during Sunday's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The injury happened as the woman, Brigitte Hoffstetter, was walking in the concession area near Turn 10. A piece of carbon fiber from one of the IndyCars flew over the grandstands about 100 yards from the track and struck her in the head, said her husband, Greg Hoffstetter.

"It's crazy what happened," he said in a text message.

Brigitte Hoffstetter was treated quickly by St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue at the track's on-site medical unit, Deputy Fire Marshal Steve Lawrence said. She was sent to Bayfront Health for stitches and remained in the trauma unit Monday evening. Her husband said doctors expect her to recover.

"Could have been very bad," her husband said via text message. "It's amazing she is alive."

Lawrence said the incident occurred early in the race and that IndyCar Series officials are reaching out to the woman's family to see if they can help.

Sunday's season opener marked the debut of the series' new aero kits, which feature more intricate bodywork on the front and rear wings. Drivers said they were still learning and adjusting to the new cars and the fragile nature of the added flaps and winglets.

Teams had to replace at least eight wings in the race's first 60 laps. This year's Grand Prix featured five caution periods, three more than last year.

"Amazing the amount of stuff that fell off," runnerup Will Power said after the race.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.