The Crash That Killed Formula One Pioneer Maria De Villota Nearly A Year And A Half Later

  • Jake O'Donnell

After barely surviving a crash in July 2012, Maria seemed to be on the mend, making several public appearances despite debilitating head injuries — apparently she was “almost beheaded” by the lift gate of a truck.

As the first Spanish woman to drive a Formula One car, De Villota was considered an inspiration to aspiring female’s in the sport for the last decade, having driven F1 cars in three major races before her horrific accident that put her in the hospital for more than a month.

Amazingly, she managed to actually attend a race less than a year after the crash. At the Spanish Gran Prix, she described herself as being filled with “adrenaline and also a little bit of sadness” upon seeing the sport she left behind. We’re just amazed that she managed to muster the emotional strength go back near a track. Truly inspiring.

[Via AP] Her death came just when De Villota seemed to be moving past her accident. She told Hola magazine in February she felt “free” and “back to being me” after returning to driving on normal roads.

She was scheduled to debut the book she had written about the crash and subsequent recovery, entitled “Life is a Gift,” this coming Monday. Her death was deemed by Spanish police to be “of natural causes.” She was 33.