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Tuesday, May 1
Simpson seeks statement from NASCAR

Bill Simpson, founder and chairman of the company that made the seat belts in Dale Earnhardt's race car, said Tuesday that he will ask NASCAR's top two officials to issue a statement that the seat belts in Earnhardt's car had nothing to do with Earnhardt's Feb. 18 death in the final lap of the Daytona 500.

Simpson told ESPN's Kelly Neal that he would make the request in a meeting he has scheduled for Thursday morning with NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. and NASCAR president Mike Helton in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Simpson said he wants NASCAR to accept the findings of Dr. Barry Myers, a biomedical expert from Duke University, whose study for the Orlando Sentinel said that Earnhardt's seat belt did not contribute to his death. Helton announced at a news conference on Feb. 23 that a "separated" seat belt had been found in Earnhardt's car after the fatal crash. Helton said at the time, and continues to say, that he will not speculate whether the belt contributed to Earnhardt's death.

Simpson has long disputed that the belt failed and even ran his own tests on seat belts produced in the same batch as Earnhardt's, reporting that none of them failed when subjected to pressure similar to that of Earnhardt's crash. Also, rescue worker Tommy Propst said last weekend the belt was intact when he reached Earnhardt shortly after the crash.

Simpson said that he would enter Thursday morning's meeting as an ally and not an adversary, and that he has not threatened to sue NASCAR nor does he anticipate legal action. He said he would wait until he sees NASCAR's response after the meeting to decide if he will take further action.

In related news, the woman who climbed into Earnhardt's car after his fatal crash said Monday that she was too busy trying to save him to tell whether the seat belt was broken. But Patti Dobler, a member of the rescue crew at Daytona International Speedway, said the man with the best view was Propst, who continued to insist Monday that Earnhardt's five-point safety harness was intact after Earnhardt's Chevrolet hit the track wall.

"I didn't notice if they were broken or frayed or intact," she told WKMG-TV 6 in Orlando. "They were on the other side of the seat."

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Orange County EMT Tommy Propst tells his version of what happened at the site of Dale Earnhardt's crash.
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Daytona International Speedway EMT Patti Dobler gives her eye-witness report on the seatbelt in question.
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