Reno Air Race Crash Claims 10th Victim

The death toll from last week’s plan crash at the 48th Annual National Air Championship Races in Reno, Nevada stands at 10, after another victim succumbed to injuries sustained in the disaster. Another 70 people were injured and sent to area hospitals on Friday, when a World War II-era P-51 Mustang fighter plan slammed into a box seat area in front of the grandstand on Friday at Reno-Stead Airport.

The name of the latest victim has not yet been released, but various media outlets are reporting that the patient who died at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center was male. The identities of five victims have been released by the Washoe County Medical Examiner and Coroners Office. In addition to the 74-year-old Jimmy Leeward, who was piloting the fighter when it crashed, the list of fatalities includes:

• Regina Bynum, 53, from San Angelo, Texas
• George Hewitt, 60, from Bellingham, Washington
• Gregory Morcom, 47, from Stanwood, Washington
• Sharon Stewart, 47 from Reno, Nevada

According to the Associated Press, St. Mary’s initially received 28 patients injured in the accident, and Renown hospital took 37 casualties after the crash. According to The New York Times, at least 15 people remain in the hospital. Victims suffered a number of injuries, including lost imbs, lsevere facial wounds, broken bones and lacerations. Two of the patients in critical condition had massive head injuries, CBS News said.

Witnesses to the tragedy reported being spattered with blood and pieces of flesh. One victim of the accident, Noah Joraanstad, a 25-year-old commercial airline pilot from Anchorage, Alaska, described the violence of the crash this morning on the Today Show.

“It just hit so violently and I kind of, at the last second, closed my eyes and just hoped and prayed, and it just kind of threw me across the ground and, right after that, I got up and ran on adrenaline for a couple of seconds,” said Joraanstad, who suffered severe burns and damage to his back from shrapnel that narrowly missed his lung and kidneys.

It’s not yet known what caused Friday’s crash. According to CBS, photos of the fighter show that, just seconds before the plane crashed, a piece of the tail section was missing, which could have played a factor in the accident. According to The New York Times, officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that they had recovered real-time flight information and a possible memory card from a video camera aboard the plane. It is believed the finding could reveal important information about the plane’s final moments.

Amateur video taken during the crash showed the plan narrowly missing a grandstand packed with many more people, according to the Associated Press. The impact of the crash created a created a six-foot-wide crater in the tarmac.

According to CBS News, Friday’s tragedy was the nation’s deadliest air racing disaster, and marked the first time spectators had been killed since the races began 47 years ago in Reno. Counting Leeward, 20 pilots have died in that time, including three in the 2007 competition, and another who perished in a practice race in 2008. Such accidents have led to calls for better safety at the event, which generates tens of millions of dollars for the local economy, and offers $1 million in prize money, CBS said.

This entry was posted in Accident. Bookmark the permalink.


© 2005-2016 Parker Waichman LLP ®. All Rights Reserved.