9 dead in Nevada air race crash

RENO, Nev., Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Friday's crash at the Reno Air Races in Nevada killed eight spectators and the pilot, officials said Saturday.

Scores of people were injured Friday afternoon, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center said 28 people were transported there, and 14 were seriously enough hurt to be admitted.


The official death toll was three late Friday, including the pilot, Jimmy Leeward, 74, of Ocala, Fla. For spectator deaths, only the two victims pronounced dead at a hospital were counted. The National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday seven people died at the crash scene and two others died in the hospital.

The NTSB began its investigation Saturday.

"Our job is to identify what caused this accident, so we can make safety recommendations to make sure it does not happen again," NTSB member Mark Rosekind said.

Leeward was an experienced pilot who had worked as a stunt flier in movies. He said investigators were examining photos of the plane taken just before the crash that indicated a piece of the tail may have gone missing.

Rosekind also said the pilot's age and medical history would be investigated.


Leeward was flying a vintage P-51 Mustang, a World War II fighter plane.

A number of pilots have been killed at the Reno Air Races over the years, but this is the first crash that has killed spectators.

Mayor Bob Cashell said he hopes the National Championship Air Races will remain in Reno.

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