Mark Byrne and his friend were at the Michigan International Speedway to see the Indy car race in the summer of 1998.
“When we got to the parking lot, there were two people walking out. They said they had to go somewhere but had good seats and wondered if we wanted their tickets, and we said ‘Sure we’ll check them out.’”
On the way to their new seats, they stopped at a concession stand to grab some beer. They had a choice between Miller Lite and Labatt Blue; they chose Labatts. “To our surprise, the keg was empty,” Byrne recalls, but they decided it was worth waiting a few minutes for a new keg.
That’s when things started getting strange, Byrne says. “While we were sitting there waiting, we started noticing a police officer and a couple of emergency responders going by, and the next thing you know, there was a few more and a few more. There got to be about 30 of them that ended up going by.”
Once they got to their new seats, they noticed that the entire section was closed off. So they went to the seats they originally were supposed to sit in.
“On the way home we’re listening to the radio recap and all that, and to our surprise we found out that Adrian Fernandez had crashed in turn four and basically some of his car had flown into the seats. Several people had been injured, and three people had been killed,” Byrne says.
It turned out Byrne and his friend were extremely lucky. “The people that had been killed had been sitting in Row 8 and Row 10. Having our seats being in Row 9 in that section, we had to wonder just how lucky we were that we waited in line to buy that Labatt beer there instead of settling for the Miller Lite.”
And that’s how a $4 beer saved a man’s life.