‘It wasn’t his time’: Nurse recalls treating Ryan Newman after horrific Daytona 500 crash

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — It was one of the most remarkable photos of 2020: Ryan Newman, shoeless, and holding his two little girls as he left Halifax Health in Daytona Beach, just three days after a devastating wreck in the final lap of the Daytona 500.

The story of that night isn’t only about Newman. It includes dozens of first-responders who rushed to his side, including one he’s known for a few years.

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Fe Roster is a registered nurse and part of the leadership team at Halifax Health. She just happened to be in victory lane as a race fan the night of the crash, and rushed to the hospital to help the team treating Newman.

“We had everything at our disposal, and he required it,” Roster recalls. “Fortunately, we’re here today to continue to celebrate his life...It wasn’t his time”

Roster first met Newman at a fishing event at the Speedway a few years ago. A few months after the wreck, she was one of the first people he hugged when he returned to the hospital for a visit.

“I’m here to say thanks to all the people at Halifax, because I wasn’t able to do it.,” Newman said in a video he recorded for the hospital. “I didn’t know all the things that had happened, all the things I had been through.”

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Roster says, seeing the wreck in real-time, it seems Newman’s injuries could have been even more traumatic.

“To this day, I cannot watch that video because it just hurts because, you know, saying, I’m going to see you in victory lane, and then all of a sudden, in a blink of an eye, someone can be gone,” Roster says.

And she’s speaking from a place of experience, having worked at Halifax Health for 31 years. Roster was a part of the infield care team when Dale Earnhardt died on the track 20 years ago.

In the 20 years before that crash, NASCAR had eight drivers die on the track, but in the 20 years since, there have been none.

That record is thanks, in part, to first-responders like Roster.

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The crews are again preparing for the Daytona 500, a task complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“As for true preparation for any trauma patient, we do that on a daily basis,” Roster adds. “And we do it well...we make miracles happen here, and so I’m very proud of that.”

Joe Kepner

Joe Kepner, WFTV.com

I unloaded the U-Haul in Orlando in 2008, just in time to cover the Magic's run to the 2009 NBA Finals.