Spectator killed during 1st stage of Monte Carlo rally race

MONACO (AP) A spectator was killed after being hit by a car during the first stage of the season-opening Monte Carlo rally, race organizers said.

Organizers said the spectator was struck by a car driven by New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon during the first of two night stages held on Thursday night.

''WRC would like to express sincere condolences to the family and friends of the victim of Thursday's tragic accident at Rallye Monte-Carlo,'' the World Rally Championship statement said. ''The spectator was transported by helicopter from the stage to hospital in Nice. Despite the best efforts of the medical staff, the spectator has sadly died. An investigation has commenced into the incident and all involved parties will provide assistance to the authorities.''

No further details were given by organizers.

Stage 1 of the race was cancelled, although stage 2 was held later Thursday night. The race concludes Sunday.

Paddon's Hyundai Motorsport team subsequently withdrew Paddon's car from the race as ''a mark of respect.'' The team said the car hit a patch of black ice on the road and crashed into a mountainside.

Paddon said he was ''incredibly saddened'' by the incident.

''It's difficult to say much more at the moment as we are in shock with what has happened,'' Paddon said. ''I'm sorry for the family, the fans and our sport.''

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.